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The Human Cost of History 

Edited by 
Tareq Y. Ismael and William W. Haddad 




Pluto WW WM Press 



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First published 2004 by Pluto Press 

345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA 

and 22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012, USA 

Copyright © Tareq Y. Ismael and William W. Haddad 2004 

The right of the individual contributors to be identified as the 
authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance 
with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. 

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data 
A catalogue record for this book is available from 
the British Library 

ISBN 7453 2148 8 hardback 

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 
Iraq : the human cost of history / edited by Tareq Y. Ismael and 
William W. Haddad. 
p. cm. 
Includes bibliographical references and index. 
ISBN 0-7453-2148-8 
1. Iraq War, 2003— Causes. 2. United States— Politics and 
-C^- government — 1989- 1. Title: Human cost of history. 11. Ismael, -C\- 

Tareq Y. 111. Haddad, William W. 
DS79.76 .1727 2003 
956.7044 f 3— dc21 


10 987654321 

Designed and produced for Pluto Press by 

Chase Publishing Services, Fortescue, Sidmouth, EX10 9QG, England 

Typeset from disk by Stanford DTP Services, Northampton, England 

Printed and bound in the European Union by 

Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham and Eastbourne, England 


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List of Tables vi 

Introduction: The Iraqi question in world politics 1 

Tareq Y. Ismaei and William W. Haddad 

1 Iraq, the United States, and international law: beyond 
the sanctions 16 
Richard Falk 

2 Power, propaganda and indifference: an explanation of 
the maintenance of economic sanctions on Iraq despite 
their human cost 34 
Eric Herring 

3 British policy towards economic sanctions on Iraq, 
1990-2002 57 
Milan Rai 

A\ 4 Oil, sanctions, debt and the future 118 A\ 

KLJ Abbas Alnasrawi %kLJ 

5 Safeguarding "our" American children by saving "their" 
Iraqi children: Gandhian transformation of the DIA's 
genocide planning, assessment, and cover-up documents 134 
Thomas J. Nagy 

6 The US obsession with Iraq and the triumph of militarism 167 
Stephen Zunes 

7 Not quite an Arab Prussia: revisiting some myths on 
Iraqi exceptionalism 213 
Isam al Khafaji 

Select Bibliography 258 

Notes on contributors 262 

Index 264 


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List of Tables 

3.1 Under-5 and infant mortality rates in Iraq, 1960-98 75 

5.1 Resources to help take action 160 

7.1 Iraq's economic record in a regional context 231 

7.2 Iraq's human development record in a regional context 233 

7.3 Iraq's nutrition indicators in a regional context 234 

7.4 Iraq's health indicators in a regional context 235 

7.5 Iraq's educational record in a regional context 236 

7.6 Iraq and Iran in a world context 237 

7.7 Iraq in a world context 238 

7.8 A decade of sanctions - Iraq and the region: population 244 

7.9 A decade of sanctions: health and living standards 244 

7.10 A decade of sanctions: educational record 244 

7.1 1 The shrinking dinar 246 

^ -€> 


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Introduction: The Iraqi Question 
in World Politics 

Tareq Ismael and William W. Haddad 

Investigating the Iraqi question in world politics has traditionally 
consisted of an examination of Iraq's relationship with international 
forces and actors as part of an assessment of their impact on the 
socio-economic evolution of the country. Scholars and other observers 
of Iraq have recognized how this process eroded traditional society 
and rapidly and irrevocably remade Iraq into a valuable and robust 
member of the international system as well as maintaining its position 
as a regional stalwart. Traditional studies have focused on the con- 
sequences of Iraq's increasing incorporation into the global capitalist 
economy during the course of the nineteenth and twentieth 
centuries. 1 Iraq's emergence and its capacity to maintain an 
independent course of action within the system of nation states, 
modeled on Europe, during the strife-ridden twentieth century were 
-\y- governed by its experiences under the sway of, first, the Ottoman -Q- 

empire and then the British empire in the nineteenth and early 
twentieth centuries. 

The advance of British colonial power into the Gulf region, and 
subsequently British dominance and rule of Iraq itself, led to economic 
and colonial servitude. This included capitulations to European power 
that largely dismantled the localized economy that had existed in 
Iraq. 2 The introduction of steam-powered locomotion, first at sea 
and then by rail, rapidly made traditional forms of transport obsolete. 
Urbanization and the early imitation of foreign technologies and 
ideas, including market-orientated land reforms, previously alien to 
the Iraqi historical experience, saw the abandonment of self-sufficient 
pastoralism and the loss of cohesion within the mortar of traditional 
society. With the British and Erench division of the Middle East 
following World War I interrupting historical Iraqi trade relations 
with Syria, 3 and the establishment of a monarchy which depended 
on outside support for political control, especially in the form of the 
innovative establishment of a standing Iraqi army, Iraqi society 
underwent a profound metamorphosis. 4 The political, social and 
economic change experienced within the country would lead to the 


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2 Iraq 

development of alternative and distinct political actors that would 
go on to shape the Iraqi political landscape to the present day. 

Political affiliations and orientations increasingly came to be based 
on one's position within the new order, whether that of a winner or 
a loser, an order that was highly penetrated by outside economic and 
political influence. The sensation is one of a society in flux, with 
widespread social mobility and the potential both for great leaps 
forward and the loss of social and economic status individually and 
collectively. The political debate arising from this period of immense 
change would inform the political discourse of the ensuing national 
experience from the 1918 Najef Revolt, the 1920 uprising, the military 
coupsofl936and 1941, the W^ftfrflft uprising of 1948, the July 1958 
Revolution, the Ba'athist coups of 17 and 30 July 1968, and finally 
the 1991 intifada of both north and south following the Gulf War of 
that year. 

Around no issue were the effects of international influence felt 
more than the exploitation of Iraqi petroleum resources. 3 Their 
increasing importance, from the independence of the state in 1920, 
through the foreign domination of the industry, saw Iraq manipulated 
and exploited until the 1961 passage of "Law 80". This act limited 
the concession rights of the Iraqi Petroleum Company (IPC), thereby 
-^3~ confining the petroleum reserves in the rest of the country to the Iraqi ~^y~ 

state. The efforts by the IPC and foreign oil interests to curtail "Law 
80" failed thanks to the overwhelming support it received from the 
Iraqi people. Negotiations with foreign oil interests continued as the 
Iraqi state whittled away at their influence. The country would play 
a pivotal role in the founding of the Organization of Petroleum 
Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1960, introducing a new element in 
the radicalization of the relations between the oil-producing states 
and the global oil industry and thus challenging foreign domination 
of the natural resources of the region. The 1 969 agreement to develop 
the north Rumeila field with a Soviet corporation led to outrage and 
reaction from Western oil interests sufficient to warrant the nation- 
alization of the IPC on 1 June 1972 which, together with the OPEC 
crisis of 1973, finally allowed Iraq to have the freedom to exploit its 
own resources. The ability now to control Iraq's petroleum resources, 
as well as its mineral wealth, "the vast tracks of land to be reclaimed, 
the big rivers to be harnessed, and above all [Iraq's] human resources" 
were to be harnessed in a national effort of development. 6 

However, Iraq's development effort, both in its stunning successes 
and disappointing failures, could not be separated from the outside 


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Introduction 3 

environment. 7 The aggressive planning by the state, resulting in the 
meteoric development of Iraqi infrastructure and social programs, 
adopted the classic contours of what was identified as a rentier 
economy, an economic relationship "in which income from rent 
dominates the distribution of national income, and thus where 
rentiers wield considerable political influence/' 8 Nonetheless, the 
emboldened political orientation of the period allowed for a positive 
outlook, and the Iraqi position within global politics was that of a 
confident state increasing in influence. The concentration of power 
at the center of the state apparatus, accentuated by the increased 
bureaucratic requirements of the national petroleum industry and 
the management of state expenditures as well as by the political vicis- 
situdes of the clash between competing Arab leaderships in dealing 
with Israel contributed to increasingly dictatorial rule and the eventual 
rise of Saddam Hussein. The dramatic rise in the oppression of political 
opposition, spurred on by the Cold War, and the increased prerogative 
and privileges of the executive through petroleum wealth altered the 
perception of the Iraqi question from one of Iraq's increasing inter- 
relation with the global economy and global society to one of the 
role of dictatorship. 
rt\ With the ruinous devastation of the Gulf War with Iran (1980-88) rt\ 

this concentration of power and the attendant abuses and oppression 
within Iraqi society intensified. Consequently, the development of 
Iraq, both in terms of planning and implementation, was severely 
damaged. The focus of the Iraq question in world politics became fixed 
on the actions of a lone individual - Saddam Hussein. International 
involvement and contributions to the war were largely ignored within 
contemporary analysis, or dismissed by practitioners as the result of 
dealing with the "greater evil" of Islamic revivalism embodied in the 
Iranian revolution and the Islamic republic erected in its wake. 
Increasingly world attention was drawn to the proliferation of 
advanced weaponry in Iraq and the region. The Iraqi invasion of 
Kuwait cemented both notions, and the Iraqi question was reformu- 
lated yet again to be one of the containment of Arab radicalism and 
the equating of Iraq, its 20 million people and vast resources, with 
one individual. In an odd twist of propagandistic logic this reductive 
exercise succeeded beyond the totalitarian efforts of a dictatorial 
regime in equating an entire society with a lone individual. Iraq was 
not the enemy of the international coalition assembled to liberate 
Kuwait, it was Saddam Hussein. The people of Iraq were not the target 


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4 Iraq 

of draconian economic sanctions put in place first to force Iraqi 
evacuation of Kuwait and then bring about its compliance with 
disarmament efforts - Saddam was. 

The following decade saw efforts by international civil society, 
human rights groups, UN member agencies, concerned states and 
individuals, and eventually Iraq's neighbors to put an end to the 
suffering and near-genocide caused by the UN sanctions regime. By 
2000 the Iraqi question was again altering to reflect and recognize 
the role Iraq - including all of its human resources and rich cultural 
heritage - was to play in world politics. The silence of an entire society 
was louder than the propaganda a criminally corrupt and morally 
bankrupt regime lavished on itself. Iraq, through its immense suffering, 
was gaining friends and champions from across the globe. Famous 
international citizens of great moral and intellectual standing and 
many citizens of a shrinking globe lent their voices calling for an 
end to the devastation. 

UN Secretary -General Kofi Annan, discussing the humanitarian 
situation in Iraq before the Security Council on 24 March 2000, 
pointed out that the United Nations was risking the loss of support 
for continued sanctions in the court of international public opinion, 
which assigned responsibility for the humanitarian crisis to the 
TT" embargo over the regime, "If we haven't already lost it/' 9 This was a v7~ 

stunning admission that the United Nations, in spite of the reports 
of its own member organizations detailing the suffering of the Iraqi 
people and the central causal role sanctions played in the creation 
of that suffering (reports Annan in his next sentence stated could not 
be ignored), was willing to accept the erosion of universal human 
rights enshrined in the United Nations charter in pursuit of security 
concerns based on the assessment of individual states that comprised 
the Security Council. He was essentially warning the court of judgment 
which had presided over Iraq for a decade, that continued 
maintenance of its coercive sanctions regime, with its genocidal 
effects on the Iraqi population, was being rejected not by the dictates 
of the UN Charter or the Declaration of Human Rights or even by 
any assessment of their success or failure to affect the Iraqi regime, 
but rather in the "court of international public opinion/' This new 
formulation of the Iraqi question, essentially from a groundswell of 
the people of the global community, rejected the sanctions regime 
and its devastating humanitarian consequences. What those imposing 
the sanctions could not comprehend was that this rejection was in 
no way support for the Iraqi regime, or the result of Iraqi government 


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Introduction 5 

propaganda, let alone an unwillingness to recognize the deadly 
coercion by those responsible for crimes against humanity who 
infested the Iraqi regime. Rather it was a decision which rejected the 
inflicting of punishment on an entire population, indeed an entire 
society in all of its cultural and spiritual manifestations, as well as 
the humanitarian tragedy evident in the sanctions. 

The bottom-up momentum to alleviate the suffering of Iraq was 
a response from an increasing majority of ordinary people in many 
countries the world over. That they were no longer willing to accept 
the imposition of sanctions was resoundingly recorded in the "court 
of international public opinion", but it was not a call simply to end 
the suffering of the Iraqi people, but rather a recognition of the 
injustice resulting from the power being wielded by the Security 
Council: a power that was not accountable to any authority outside 
its veto-wielding five permanent members. The nature and role of 
the Iraqi regime was not misunderstood, discounted or dismissed by 
the opponents of sanctions, but its brazen disregard for its own 
population was matched by a similar disdain exhibited by the Security 
Council. Increasingly the United States and the United Kingdom, 
identified as the principal perpetrators of the ongoing injustice, were 
isolated, first in international opinion and then diplomatically. The 
A\ only remaining tools available to maintain the quarantine were their A\ 

veto-power and overwhelming military force. 

The costs of maintenance were rising as efforts around the world 
increasingly undermined not only the legitimacy of the sanctions 
but also their implementation. The resignation of senior UN 
employees such as Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, the growth 
of the international grass-roots campaigns against sanctions, the 
arrival of humanitarian relief flights in September 2000, and the 
dramatic rejection of Iraq's diplomatic isolation by regional 
governments as well as concerned states the world over were leading 
to a near total collapse of the sanctions embargo. The outbreak of 
the Aqsa intifada in October 2000, with the subsequent recognition 
that a peaceful resolution between Palestinians and Israelis was not 
at hand, again intensified linkage between the strife-ridden regional 
political axes. Only the military presence of the US and UK and the 
strict legal penalties for ignoring the quarantine prevented the human- 
itarian relief the Iraqi people needed so desperately. Efforts to buttress 
the sanctions regime, the implementation of so-called "smart 
sanctions" were identified as just that: efforts to shore up the 
weakening support for the sanctions, not a serious effort to relieve 
the suffering of Iraqis. It was increasingly recognized, largely through 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

6 Iraq 

the activist efforts of a handful of campaigners, that Iraq's ordeal 
would not end without the removal of sanctions and an immense 
rebuilding effort undertaken to reconstruct the country's economic, 
material, and social infrastructure. 

The diplomatic stalemate reached in 2000, which the Security 
Council meeting in March was attempting to address, was rejected 
by the Bush administration. A fundamental shift occurred between 
the two principal enforcers of Iraqi sanctions. The British government 
had long maintained that it supported the maintenance of sanctions 
in an effort to bring about Iraqi compliance with the disarmament 
goals of the Security Council Resolutions adopted at the end of the 
1991 Gulf War. The Bush administration, however, advocated a more 
daunting condition for the lifting of sanctions, the removal of the 
Iraqi regime. This was regarded warily by sanctions opponents and 
many US allies in the opening months of the new Bush administra- 
tion. The tragedies of horror and destruction that visited the United 
States on 1 1 September, however, altered the parameters of the Iraq 
question yet again. In the face of the crimes against humanity 
perpetrated that day, the Bush administration forcefully responded 
with a sweeping array of policies. The erosion of American civil 
liberties, the preponderant use of force in Afghanistan and around 
-\y- the world in attacking fringe Islamic revivalist groups, the escalation -Q- 

of racist and uninformed commentary about the Arab and Islamic 
people and cultures, all resulted from the Bush administration's 
response to 1 1 September. 10 Moreover, within days of 1 1 September, 
the US Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing the president 
to use force against nations that he determined had aided the terrorist 
attacks. 11 The resolution stipulated: 

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate 
force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines 
planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that 
occurred on 11 September 2001, or harbored such organizations 
or persons, in order to prevent any further acts of international 
terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations 
or persons. 12 

Moreover, "the Congress declares that this section is intended to 
constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of 
section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution/' By providing this author- 
ization Congress gave great latitude to the White House in the 


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Introduction 7 

prosecution of any military action it chose to pursue in its "war 
on terror/' 

However, contained within many of these reactionary policies and 
publicly acknowledged from the moment of the attacks was a 
concerted effort to tie the Iraqi regime to the now voracious public 
support for the eradication of political terrorism. That the US 
government, largely at the prompting of the Bush administration, 
chose to prosecute a campaign solely against Islamic varieties of this 
political phenomenon is well documented. Hardliners with a decade 
of calls to engage Iraq militarily behind them, such as Deputy Secretary 
of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, New York Times columnist William Safire, 13 
former CIA director James Woolsey, and journalist Laurie Mylroie, 
now propagated a US invasion as the panacea to international political 
terrorism. 14 The dubious claims connecting Iraq and the events of 
11 September took the form of three implausible stories. The first 
had one of the suicide attackers of 1 1 September, Mohammed Atta, 
meeting with Iraqi intelligence in Prague, 13 although the CIA and 
FBI publicly acknowledged their own investigative timeline had Atta 
in the United States during the same period and that therefore the 
story lacked credibility due to their inability to produce corrobora- 
tion. 16 The second story had Iraq connected to the anthrax attacks 
-^3~ ln the United States, 17 a story which had no basis beyond the fact ~^y~ 

that Iraq had an anthrax weapons program prior to 1991. 18 This 
attempted connection took on a surreal quality when the United 
States ousted the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of 
Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the agency established under UN 
auspices to enforce the Chemical Weapons Convention, 19 and scuttled 
attempts to improve the verification and monitoring measures 
surrounding the Biological Weapons Treaty while continuing to 
maintain that their dispute with the Iraqi government was over 
weapons proliferation^ The third connection revolved around an 
Islamic revivalist group in northern Iraq, Ansar al-lslam. This territory 
was outside the control of the Ba'athist regime (in fact it fell under 
the protection of US and UK pilots in the northern no-fly zone) and 
the Iraqi leadership had no known ties to Islamic fundamentalism 
of any variety prior to 11 September, which led many observers to 
be sceptical of the motives and veracity of the allegations. Z1 

The fact that they could not provide a single impartial credible 
piece of evidence to support countless claims of Iraqi culpability did 
not stand in the way of Bush administration officials implying that 
such was the case. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks Paul 


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8 Iraq 

Wolfowitz stated: "It's not just a matter of capturing people and 
holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing 
the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism. " 22 No 
question was raised as to which states he was referring to. President 
Bush made the connection clear on 29 January 2002 with his State 
of the Union Address delineating an "axis of evil" that threatened 
the global community, with Iraq as its central member. 23 European 
leaders called for restraint, German deputy foreign minister Ludger 
Vollmer went so far as to state "this terror argument cannot be used 
to legitimize old enmities/' 24 Wolfowitz also pressed the first public 
version of the argument linking Iraq not only to the sponsorship of 
terrorism, but also to the claim that the Iraqi regime would be a 
willing supplier of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist organ- 
izations. 23 Other US officials, such as Secretary of State Colin Powell, 
when asked to clarify the government's position on Iraq, demurred, 
preferring broader goals: "ending terrorism is where I would leave it 
and let Mr Wolfowitz speak for himself/' Donald Rumsfeld, speaking 
from his authority as US Defense Secretary, repeatedly expressed his 
belief that Iraq had "a relationship" with al-Qaida, despite the lack 
of evidence. 26 

Efforts by a majority of the Bush officials cemented the alteration 
-^3~ °f the lrac l question to that of being a threat to the civilized world. ~^y~ 

In the words of President Bush: 

We must prevent the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, 
biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States 
and the world. ...Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America 
and to support terror. The United States of America will not permit 
the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's 
most destructive weapons.... The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop 
anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. 
This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder 
thousands of its own citizens - leaving the bodies of mothers 
huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to 
international inspections - then kicked out the inspectors. This is 
a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world. 27 

This volume is an attempt to redress this attempt to demonize 
Iraq, its people and its history. A lack of specialized knowledge or 
sophisticated understanding of Middle Eastern or Iraqi politics has 
not prevented many people from making sweeping and highly 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

Introduction 9 

reductive statements about the Iraqi state, Iraqi peoples, Iraqi political 
culture, and the role Iraq plays in regional and international politics. 
Here we seek to contribute to redressing the lack of understanding - 
towards reasonable thinking and diversity of opinion present in the 
wider debate, in an effort to avert the further devastation of the Iraqi 
people. Muhammad Hamidullah opened his celebrated volume on 
the conduct of Muslim states by pointing out that: "Conduct in time 
of war, with regard to the enemy, has [for] all time been considered 
as the mirror of the culture of a nation. " Z8 While so many propose 
war as the sole means to carry out policy in Iraq and in the process 
abandon the cries heard from the Iraqi people over the past twelve 
years, other voices are being raised. Some are within the binding of 
this volume, many others are struggling to be heard elsewhere. In the 
words of Martin Luther King: 

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies 
hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies 
toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.. .The chain of evil 
- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, 
or we shall be plunged into the abyss of annihilation. 

-^3~ In 1967 he said, "man must evolve for all human conflict a method ~^y~ 

which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation/' 

This edited collection includes several prominent public intellec- 
tuals and academics who are known both as champions of social 
justice and for the high academic standards of their work. While 
certainly informed by activist passions and a resounding desire to see 
sanctions lifted, the authors present detailed and sophisticated critical 
arguments that can inform students, activists, policy-makers and 
interested readers looking for both more information and a critical 
approach. The conclusions drawn within this volume follow an artic- 
ulation of the factual examination of the impact of twelve years of 
economic sanctions and over 20 years of conflict on the people of 
Iraq. This is most important as the authors, while detailing past events 
and measuring their impact, have an inherent focus on the future of 
Iraq and its people. 

Richard Falk, Eric Herring and Stephen Zunes all examine the post- 
11 September world and the impact of the aggressive policies of the 
US administration of George W. Bush. As pointed out by Falk, Zunes 
and Alnasrawi, US policy has remained committed to the idea of 
regime change in Iraq, and no difference in degree of Iraqi compliance 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


10 Iraq 

with UN bodies has produced any significant change in this stated 
goal. Quite simply, the US has designated Iraq as a "rogue state" and 
therefore, a direct threat to its national security. According to the 
National Security Strategy of the United States of America, "rogue 
states" are defined as those nations that will: 

* brutalize their own people and squander their national resources 
for the personal gain of the rulers; 

* display no regard for international law, threaten their neighbors, 
and callously violate international treaties to which they are 

* remain determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction, 
along with other advanced military technology, to be used as 
threats or offensively to achieve the aggressive designs of these 

* sponsor terrorism around the globe; 

* reject basic human values and hate the United States and 
everything for which it stands. 

Of course, the only characteristic defining a "rogue state" that the 
US itself fails to fulfill might be the final condition. However, one 
Xy might even be bold enough to argue that the Bush administration ~x3~ 

displays a contempt for "the United States and everything for which 
it stands", given Bush's record in electoral politics, his attempt to 
assign Henry Kissinger to head the 11 September probe, Z9 his unilateral 
withdrawal from international treaties, his flaunting of the 
International Court of Justice in The Hague, and countless other acts. 
Additionally, the US has positioned itself as the champion of the 
free market - a term it ludicrously utilizes as a direct equivalent to 
"democracy" and "civilization". 30 American policy, although 
attempting to portray itself as benign, operates notably as a direct 
threat to the sovereignty, well-being, health, liberty, self-determina- 
tion and democratic structures of potentially every other nation in 
the world. For this reason, it seems obvious that the US would use 
its "unprecedented -and unequ a led -strength in the world" 31 to exempt 
itself from the workings of the International Court. 32 Protecting the 
advance of the capitalist empire has become the responsibility of the 
US government and the British government (an inheritor of one of 
the old colonial empires). The role of the British government as it 
fits into the sanctions regime and its role as a US junior partner is 
examined in detail by Milan Rai in this volume. Anyone standing in 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Introduction 11 

the way of this advance or posing a possible challenge by asserting 
rights to sovereign control of resources, such as Iraq, will be made 
an example and will pay dearly. 

The costs suffered by the people of Iraq from a war waged via 
military combat, diplomacy, and economic coercion through 
sanctions is explored extensively in this volume, especially in the 
works of Abbas Alnasrawi and Thomas J. Nagy. Nagy's chapter is also 
of importance because it addresses a declassified US report entitled 
Iraqi Water Treatment Vulnerabilities in which the US government 
clearly lays out an understanding of the implications of sanctions on 
the water supplies of the Iraqi people. The fact that this document 
is dated 22 January 1991 reveals that the United States government 
was well aware of the impact of sanctions and suggests that the deaths 
of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis may have even been a desirable 
goal, or at least a secondary outcome that was "worth" the pursuance 
of the primary. 

However, in war there are always at least two parties. In this war 
ofeconomic and strategic control of resources, as usual the group that 
suffers the most is the general public of Iraq. They are caught between 
the economic advance of George Bush Sr.'s New World Order and 
Saddam Hussein's vociferous thirst for power and control of the Gulf. 
Xy Issun a l Khafaji deconstructs some of the mythologies of the pre- ~x3~ 

sanctions Iraqi paradise presented by many a nti -sanctions activists 
flying in the face of logic. People who seek to find justice and a return 
to humane conditions for the Iraqi people cannot afford to assume 
that Iraq was on the right track before. Only through the establish- 
ment of a just system of organizing Iraq's human and natural resources 
can the Iraqi people recover and begin to pursue healthy and 
productive lives as is pointed out by Abbas Alnasrawi. 

Without these conditions yet being realized, even in advanced 
representative democracies (i.e. the US and Britain) and given the 
imperial tendencies of these bodies, it would be logical that these states 
are in no position to offer a democratic solution for the Iraqi people, 
let alone liberty. In adherence to even the most basic understanding 
of liberty, neither the conditions of democracy nor liberty can be 
forcibly applied from above but, rather, must be arrived at through 
the development and accessibility of civil society. The US and Britain 
are not interested in the liberty of the Iraqi people; they simply use 
this as a rhetorical device. What they desire is the complete control 
of the economic production and military strategic capacities of Iraq. 
Contrary to US State Department claims, the liberty of the Iraqi people 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


12 Iraq 

cannot coexist with the domination of US imperialism or any other 
tyrannies, including the rule of Saddam Hussein. 

We would like to express our gratitude to all of the authors who 
have contributed to this critical examination of an extremely urgent 
and vital discourse. Additionally, thanks must be extended to John 
Measor, Lisa Maclsaac and Mark Bizek for their research assistance, 
especially in chasing the latest developments and keeping a cheerful 


1. Hanna Batatu. Ihe Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of 
Iraq: A Study of Iraq's Old Landed and Commercial Classes and of its 
Communists, Ba'athists f and Free Officers (Princeton, NJ: Princeton 
University Press, 1978). 

2. Charles Issawi. An Economic History of the Middle East and North Africa 
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), pp. 62-76. 

3. Roger Owen. Ihe Middle East in the World Economy: 1800-1914 (London 
and New York: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1981), pp. 180-8, 273-86. 

4. David Fromkin. A Peace To End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire 
and the Creation of the Modern Middle East (New York: Avon Books, 1 989). 

5. Abbas Alnasrawi. The Economy of Iraq: Oil f Wars, Destruction of Development 
and Prospects, 1 950-20 1 (Westport, CT.: Greenwood Press, 1994). 

C^) 6. Celine Whittleton. "Oil and the Iraqi Economy/' in Committee Against C^) 

Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq. Saddam's Iraq: Revolution 
or Reaction? (London: Zed Books, 1986), p. 55. 

7. Alnasrawi. Ihe Economy of Iraq, pp. 127-86. 

8. Simon Bromley. Rethinking Middle East Politics (Austin: University of Texas 
Press, 1994), p. 94. 

9. "Security Council Considers Humanitarian Situation in Iraq/' United 
Nations Daily Highlights (24 March 2000). 

10. As 'ad Abu Khalil. Bin Laden ; Islam and America's New {< War on Terrorism" 
(New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002); Human Rights Watch. UNI1ED 
S1A1ES: PRESUMPTION OF GUILT: Human Rights Abuses of Post -Sept ember 
11 Detainees (New York: Human Rights Watch, August 2002). Available 
Online at: reports/2002/us91 1/. 

11. Emphasis added. See: House Joint Resolution 64, "Authorization for Use 
of Military Force/' Congressional Record (House) (Washington, DC: 14 
September 2001), PageH5638. Found online at: 

12. Ibid. 

13. William Safire. "Protecting Saddam/' New York Times (18 March 2002); 
William Safire. "Mr. Atta Goes to Prague/' New York limes (9 May 2002). 

14. Laurie Mylroie and James Woolsey. Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's 
Unfinished War Against America (New York: HarperCollins, 2001). See also: 
"Laurie Mylroie: Is Iraq involved with US terror attacks?/' 
News (29 October 2001). 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Introduction 13 

15. "Czech PM: Atta considered Prague attack/' (9 November 
2001); Deborah Orm. "US Czechs Out Atta's Trip/' New York Post (23 
October 2001); David Rose. "The Iraqi connection/' Observer (11 November 
2001); "Hijack Suspect met Iraqi Agent in June 2000/' Wall Street Journal 
(4 October 2001). 

16. Sam Roe. "Doubts arise on Iraqi link to attacks/' Chicago Tribune (24 
December 2001); William Blum. "Follow the Changing Story: Atta, Ihe 
Times and the Iraqi Agent/' CounterPunch (IS January 2002); Michael 
Isikoff. "The Phantom Link to Iraq: A spy story tying Saddam to 9-1 1 is 
looking very flimsy/' Newsweek Online Edition (28 April 2002); Walter 
Pincus. "No Link Between Hijacker, Iraq Found, US Says/' Washington Post 
(1 May 2002); John J. Lumpkin. "Atta didn't meet with Iraqi intelligence 
agent as once alleged/' Associated Press (1 May 2002). 

17. "By far the likeliest supplier is Saddam Hussein/' Wall Street Journal (IS 
October 2001); David Rose and Ed Vulliamy. "Iraq 'behind US anthrax 
outbreaks'/' Guardian/Observer (14 October 2001). 

18. Patrick Martin. "US anthrax attacks linked to army biological weapons 
plant/' WSWS (28 December 2001); Scott Ritter. "Don't blame Saddam 
for this one: There is no evidence to suggest Iraq is behind the anthrax 
attack/' Guardian (19 October 2001); Sue Major Holmes. "Expert says 
anthrax attacks too complex for al-Qaida/' Associated Press (26 October 
2001); Barbara Hatch Rosenberg. "Analysis of the Anthrax Attacks/' 
Federation of American Scientists (S February 2002). Available Online 
at:; Gene Healy. "War with 
Iraq: Who Decides?" CATO Institute (26 February 2002); Guy Gugliotta. 

-£ ^— "Stu d y : Anth rax Tainted Up to S , 000 Letters: Cro ss-Contamin ati on Blam ed — £ ^- 

For Deaths of 2 Women/' Washington Post (14 May 2002). 

19. Peter Ford. "US diplomatic might irks nations: A senior UN chief who 
policed the chemical weapons ban was voted out Monday night/' Christian 
Science Monitor (24 April 2002); "US forces ouster of UN body's chief/' 
DAWN: The Internet Edition (23 April 2002); "Chemical weapons body 
sacks head/' BBC News Online (22 April 2002). 

20. "US warning on Iraq bio-weapons/' BBC News Online (19 November 
2001). Available online at: 
1664093. stm; Richard Waddington. "US Forces Suspension of Germ War 
Pact, EU Angry," Reuters (9 December 2001). 

21 . Catherine Taylor. "Taliban -style group grows in Iraq: In the Kurdish north, 
a new Islamist group with ties to Al Qaeda has killed women without 
burqas, seized villages," Christian Science Monitor (1 S March 2002); Jeffrey 
Goldberg. "The Great Terror," New Yorker magazine (25 March 2002); 
Scott Peterson. "Iraqi Funds, Training Fuel Islamic Terror Group: Two 
Iraqi Arabs held in a Kurdish prison tell of contacts among Ansar al- 
Islam, Al Qaeda, and aides to the Iraqi president," Christian Science Monitor 
(2 April 2002); Dana Priest and Bradley Graham. "Toxic Gas Tests Draw 
US Study: Kurdish Group in N. Iraq Accused," Washington Post (20 August 
2002); Bill Gertz. "Rumsfeld says al Qaeda in Iraq," Washington Times (21 
August 2002); "US officials: Al Qaeda in Kurd -controlled Iraq," 
News (22 August 2002); John J. Lumpkin Associated Press. "Islamic 
extremist unit draws US attention," Washington Times (22 August 2002); 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


14 Iraq 

Michael Howard and Julian Borger. "Al-Qaida running new terror camp, 

say Kurds/' Guardian (23 August 2002); Associated Press, "Arabs linked 
to al-Qaida may have tested biological weapons in Iraq, US official says/' 
Boston Herald. (20 August 2002). 

22. Paul Wolfowitz. "DoD News Briefing - Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz/' 
United States Department of Defense (13 September 2001). As found at: 
www.; Paul 
Koring. "US prepares for a new kind of war: Cruise missiles won't be 
effective against small cells of terrorists in remote locations/' Globe and 
Mail (Toronto) (14 September 2001), 
attack/pages/washington_0914_ article2.html; Ann Scott Tyson. "US 
calculates a war with little room for error: Risk of spawning terrorism, 
weakening moderates in Mideast/' Christian Seienee Monitor (18 September 
2001),; Julian Borger. 
"Washington's Hawk Trains Sights on Iraq: Deputy's desire for wider war 
adds tension to debate/' Guardian (26 September 2001), www. 
guardian. co. uk/waronterror/story/0, 1361, 5582 76, 00. html. 

23. "President Delivers State of the Union Address/' The President's State of 
the Union Address (The United States Capitol, Washington, DC, 29 
January 2002). As found at: 

24. Ian Black, John Hooper, and Oliver Burkeman. "Bush warned over 'axis 
of evil': European leaders insist diplomacy is the way to deal with three 
nations singled out by America," Guardian (5 February 2002). 

®25. Daniel Schorr. "Connecting Iraq to Sept. 11," Christian Seienee Monitor (8 ^-j-^ 

August 2002); Bob Drogin and Paul Richter. "Bush backing Atta-Iraq link: vty 

Connection would help case against Saddam," Los Angeles limes {1 August 

26. Daniel Schorr. "In search of a casus belli," Christian Seienee Monitor (9 
August 2002); Bob Drogin, Paul Richter and Doyle McManus. "White 
House says Sept. 11 skyjacker had met Iraqi agent," Los Angeles limes (2 
August 2002). 

27. The President's State of the Union Address (29 January 2002). 

28. Muhammad Hamidullah. Muslim Conduct of State. 7th Edn (Kashmiri 
Bazar Lahore, Pakistan: S.H. Muhammad Ashraf, 1977). 

29. Given Kissinger's record of allegiance to the State and its "right" to carry 
out covert operations despite their effect on the democratic process, the 
selection of this man as the head of the probe into the mishandling of 
intelligence relating to 1 1 September could be viewed as an attempt by 
the Bush administration to thwart any effective investigation. Bush's 
vehement opposition to the probe suggests that there may be the 
possibility of some level of complicity amongst his administration in the 
tragic events of 11 September. For an assessment of the questionable 
character of Henry Kissinger, especially as related to the probe into intel- 
ligence failures leading up to 11 September, see Christopher Hitchens. 
"The Latest Kissinger Outrage: Why is a proven liar and wanted man in 
charge of the 9/11 investigation?" Ike Slate, ?id=2G74678> 
(27 November 2002). Hitchens is also the author of Ihe Irial of Henry 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Introduction IS 

Kissinger (Verso, 2001) in which he argues a case to try Kissinger for crimes 
against humanity. 

30. See The White House, Washington, National Security Strategy of the United 
States of America. September 2002, 

31. Ibid., p. 1. 

32. "We will take the actions necessary to ensure that our efforts to meet our 
global security commitments and protect Americans are not impaired by 
the potential for investigations, inquiry, or prosecution by the 
International Criminal Court (ICC), whose jurisdiction does not extend 
to Americans and which we do not accept. We will work together with 
other nations to avoid complications in our military operations and 
cooperation, through such mechanisms as multilateral and bilateral 
agreements that willprotectUS nationals from the ICC. We will implement 
fully the American Service members Protection Act, whose provisions 
are intended to ensure and enhance the protection of US personnel and 
officials." Ibid., p. 31. 




Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


1 Iraq, the United States, 
and International Law: 
Beyond the Sanctions 

Richard Falk 

What accounts for the obsessiveness of American policy toward Iraq 
over the course of more than a decade? Is it another Vietnam in the 
sense that the US Government cannot bring itself to acknowledge 
the failure of its approach to regime change in Baghdad since the end 
of the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein having withstood compre- 
hensive sanctions, a variety of covert assaults, and repeated American 
harassment from the air without flinching? Is it the pique at the 
White House and Pentagon associated with the electoral removal 
from the scene of Bush Sr contrasting with the persistence of Saddam 
Hussein and posing a filial challenge to Bush Jr.? Is it some sort of 
Freudian response by the younger Bush in retaliation for Saddam 
-£^- Hussein's alleged plot to assassinate his father? Is it the long deferred -C'X- 

payback to Israel for staying on the sidelines during the Gulf War, 
despite the Scud missiles being fired from Iraq? Is it a matter of 
securing US control of the oil reserves being linked to periodic displays 
of regional dominance, especially through the denial of weaponry 
of mass destruction to those states in the Middle East that might seek 
at some point to deter or challenge the US in some future crisis? Or 
is it part of the American empire-building strategy that views Iraq as 
both an obstacle, but also as an opportunity to demonstrate the 
extent of military dominance possessed by the US Government and 
its political will to deal harshly with states that stand in the way? Or 
is it the new cover story, frequently repeated by Bush and senior 
political aides, that the Baghdad regime has become more dangerous 
since 11 September because it may enable al-Qaida to obtain weaponry 
of mass destruction that would then be used against American targets? 
Undoubtedly there is no single correct answer because different 
members of the Bush inner circle are drawn to various combinations 
of these lines of analysis and advocacy, and they seem mutually 
reinforcing in any event. What is beyond doubt, however, is that 
American policy toward Iraq since the ceasefire in 1991 that ended 



Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Iraq, the United States, and International Law 1 7 

the Gulf War has violated the most basic precepts of international 
law, including the UN Charter, and the fundamental economic and 
social rights of the Iraqi people. 1 To the extent that the UN Security 
Council has endorsed American policy, it has weakened respect for 
the UN around the world. Iraq was defeated in a war, accepted 
humiliating conditions for a ceasefire, which effectively encroached 
upon the basic sovereign rights of Iraq as a state. In the ensuing 
period Iraq has not been offered any kind of protection by the inter- 
national community even in the face of an increasingly threatened 
and unprovoked armed attack by the United States. 

This chapter discusses the changing context of US policy toward 
Iraq, followed by a consideration under international law of sanctions 
and war threats, concluding with a criticism of the approach taken 
by the United States and by the United Nations over this period of 
more than a decade. In sum, for more than a decade the international 
community as shaped by the United States has imposed an extremely 
punitive peace on Iraq, abruptly forgetting the lessons supposedly 
learned as a consequence of the disastrous effects of the punitive 
peace imposed by the victorious powers on Germany after World 
War I. These lessons were self-consciously and successfully applied 
to Germany and Japan to promote the recovery of these defeated 
Xy countries in the aftermath of World War II. In retrospect, it seems ~x3~ 

reasonable to wonder whether these "lessons of Versailles" were only 
meant for those countries associated with the North in some integral 
way. The South, subordinate in any event, has remained fertile ground 
for indefinite punishment of any political actor that challenged the 
established geopolitical order. Iraq, formerly a strategic junior partner 
in the maintenance of such an order, especially during its long war 
with the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 1980s, became and 
remains the arch enemy of this post-Cold War American design for 
the region. Iraq currently faced for some years dire threats of invasion 
and attack that were openly discussed by American political leaders, 
with alternative plans for the military operation openly debated in 
mainstream media. 2 The debate focuses on means, their supposed 
effectiveness and their anticipated costs and risks, and treats the 
acceptability of the ends as taken for granted or irrelevant, although 
in stark violation of the most basic rules of the UN Charter prohibiting 
recourse to non-defensive force in the settling of an unresolved inter- 
national dispute. Looking sympathetically at the plight of Iraq as a 
beleaguered state should not be confused with an endorsement of 
the Baghdad regime, or its brutal and bloody past behavior, both 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


18 Iraq 

with respect to neighbors and its own internal minorities. In this 
regard, there is little doubt that Saddam Hussein is indictable for 
crimes against humanity and crimes against the peace. Nontheless, 
the criminality of a head of state or of official policies pursued does 
not impair the sovereignty of that state, nor does it provide grounds 
for suspending the application of international law. The reclassifica- 
tion of Iraq as "enemy" and "rogue state" that occurred in the 1990s 
was purely a consequence of altered geopolitical priorities as the 
worst excesses of the Iraqi government were committed years 
prior to its attack on Kuwait, and provoked no change of strategic 


From every perspective except that of geopolitics, American policy 
toward Iraq since the end of the Gulf War has been a disaster. The 
imposition and retention of comprehensive sanctions for more than 
a decade after the devastation of the Gulf War has resulted in hundreds 
of thousands of civilian casualties: more than a million according to 
some estimates. 3 This assessment has been abundantly documented 
by reliable international sources, and affects most acutely the very 
-^3~ young and the poorest sectors of the Iraqi population. 4 Although, ~^y~ 

regrettably, receiving formal backing by the United Nations through 
a strained interpretation of Security Council Resolution 687, with 
some modifications in recent years, the cruel impact of sanctions so 
appalled the most senior international civil servants of the UN 
entrusted with administering programs of oil-for-food programs as 
to prompt that rarest of bureaucratic impulses, successive resigna- 
tions by the lead administrators on principle! 3 The political objective 
of this highly punitive diplomacy was justified as a way to destabilize 
and contain the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein, but the evidence 
clearly indicated that as the years passed, the government in Baghdad 
gathered political strength while the internal and external opposition 
among Iraqis seemed ever more inconsequential. It was ordinary Iraqi 
people who were paying the main price for this continuing encounter 
between Saddam Hussein and the United States Government. 

Throughout this period, as well, American and British planes 
continued to patrol extensive no-fly zones that had been established 
in the north and south of Iraq, initially justified by the US Government 
as indirectly authorized by Security Council Resolution 688 as a way 
to protect endangered minorities, but later maintained as a way to 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Iraq, the United States, and International Law 1 9 

challenge Baghdad militarily on a daily basis, exhibiting its helpless- 
ness as a sovereign state. Unlike sanctions, these military incursions 
lacked clear Security Council authorization, were quite unconnected 
with their original protective function benefiting the Kurds in 
northern Iraq and the Shi'ite minority in southern Iraq during the 
immediate aftermath of the 1 991 Gulf War when Baghdad was seeking 
revenge against those elements in the Iraqi population that had sided 
with the American-led military campaign. 

At issue all along was the UN mechanism, the United Nations 
Special Commission (UNSCOM), that was imposed on Iraq after the 
ceasefire in the form of an inspection mechanism that claimed 
extensive rights to oversee the destruction of existing Iraqi stockpiles 
of weaponry of mass destruction and ensure that no activities were 
continuing secretly to acquire such weaponry in the future. 6 There 
was much controversy surrounding UNSCOM activities, associated 
with alleged Iraqi evasions and denials of access, but also counter- 
charges by Iraq contending that the inspection procedure was being 
used for espionage purposes and to harass and humiliate the Iraqi 
government. Some years ago Iraq refused to grant further access to 
UNSCOM, creating a new pretext for intervention and the resumption 
A\ of war, as well as debates about whether such inspections, however A\ 

v extensive, could ever provide confidence about Iraqi compliance v 

with the conditions of disarmament imposed by UN Security 
Resolution 687. In the years of the Bush Jr. presidency there have been 
assertions that without inspection a pre-emptive war is needed to 
ensure that Iraq does not pose a threat to the United States in the 
future, but also assertions from Washington that inspections even if 
restored would not provide sufficient confidence to overcome the 
justification for a military attack designed to impose a regime change. 
Complicating the picture further, the UN, with strong backing from 
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, has been seeking to negotiate a renewal 
of an inspection arrangement positing an UNSCOM arrangement as 
an alternative to war, and coupled with some indication that sanctions 
could be ended if the new scheme worked successfully. It became 
clear that Washington rejected such an approach, and viewed the 
inspection issue as a diversion and distraction from its goal of regime 
change. The US was playing a double game: if Iraq resisted inspection, 
this would validate the need for intervention, but if it assented, then 
the unreliability of inspection would also validate the need for inter- 
vention, a deadly catch-22! 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


20 Iraq 

In the meantime, during the latter half of the 1990s, a cruel 
stalemate arising from the imposition of sanctions and intrusive US 
claims persisted. It had long been apparent to objective observers 
that these undertakings were not succeeding, but policy-makers in 
Washington lacked the political courage to acknowledge, even 
indirectly, that their approach had failed to dislodge Saddam Hussein 
and was doing great damage to the people of Iraq, as well as to the 
humanitarian reputation and political autonomy of the United 
Nations. The Clinton administration had so committed itself to the 
support of sanctions, as well as the continuation of periodic bombings 
within the no-fly zones, that it seemed completely unable and 
unwilling to re-evaluate the policy in light of the harm being done 
to Iraqi civilian society. Such a reluctance was consistent with the 
overall approach in the Clinton years to exhibit "toughness" in 
foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, so as to minimize criticism 
from the hard right that made little secret of its push all along for a 
renewal of outright war against Iraq with the goal of coercing a regime 
change in Baghdad. 7 Reminiscent of Vietnam, leaders in Washington 
could not bring themselves to admit that their policy was a dreadful 
failure, and so it went on and on, with no end in sight. During his 
presidential campaign and upon arrival in Washington, George W. 
-^3~ Bush announced that sanctions against Iraq would be continued, ~^y~ 

and intensified, although the undisclosed intention was to move 
from sanctions to the more proactive option of intervention and war. 

From the perspectives of international law and morality these 
policies directed at Iraq were of a highly dubious character, yet their 
continuation in the face of widespread criticism from most 
governments in the region and the world, revealed the extent of 
American influence within the United Nations specifically, and inter- 
national politics generally. The whole experience was a demonstration 
of the primacy of geopolitics at the expense of basic standards of law 
and morality. Despite the pragmatic and humanitarian misgivings 
of many governments, there was little disposition to challenge openly 
the American position. 

Then came the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Center 
and the Pentagon, which inflicted heavy symbolic and substantive 
damage on the United States, and produced a claim to use force in 
self-defense. Despite some criticisms directed at the way the claim 
was formulated and applied to Afghanistan, it did represent a 
reasonable effort to retaliate against the main locus of al-Qaida 
operations and to diminish the prospect of future attacks. 8 In the 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Iraq, the United States, and International Law 21 

face of these attacks, President Bush in his 20 September 2001 address 
to a Joint Session of Congress, outlined the resolve of the US 
Government to wage an overall war against "every terrorist group of 
global reach/' 9 Iraq was mentioned by name in the speech only to 
make the point that the character of the war being launched was 
different from the 1991 Gulf War: "This war will not be like the war 
against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and 
a swift conclusion/' True, a generalized warning declared that "[f]rom 
this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support 
terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime/' 
The truth was that the hawks in Washington had smelled Iraqi 
blood from the moment of the al-Qaida attacks. There were early 
statements by right-wing think-tank analysts urging the extension 
of the military response to Iraq. Leading members on Congress sent 
a bipartisan letter to the President, coordinated by Senators Joseph 
Lieberman and John McCain, insisting that the war on terrorism 
could not succeed unless the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was 
confronted by military force. Israel, also, made little secret of its wish 
to extend the battlefields of Afghanistan to Iraq (and Iran). Various 
efforts were made to encourage war against Iraq by trying to show 
(on the basis of slim and unconvincing evidence) that there were 
Xy links between Baghdad and al-Qaida agents prior to 11 September, ~x3~ 

or to imply that Iraq was the source of the anthrax distributed via 
the US Postal Service. Throughout this period there were inconsis- 
tent and inconclusive comments deriving from top members of the 
Bush security team. The Secretary of State, Colin Powell, was still 
seen soon after 1 1 September as reluctant to endorse such a belligerent 
stance, realizing that it would interfere with his diplomatic priority, 
which involved building up a global coalition against the al-Qaida 
network and finding some way to dissipate anti-Americanism arising 
from the unresolved fate of the Palestinians. Such caution seems to 
have disappeared in the wake of the successful campaign by American 
military forces to turn the tide of battle within Afghanistan so quickly 
and decisively in favor of the Northern Alliance, producing the 
collapse of the Taliban regime, the destruction of the Afghan nerve 
centre of al-Qaida and the dispersal of its leadership. This American 
victory was achieved with almost no American casualties sustained 
during the air campaign. At first, it seemed far more dangerous to be 
a journalist covering the US war in Afghanistan than to be a soldier 
on the American side. Later on, this state of affairs changed somewhat, 
as American forces were used on the ground to deal with enclaves of 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


22 Iraq 

Taliban and al-Qaida resistance and some deadly fire-fights occurred. 
A new wave of American triumphalism emerged, being painted in 
vivid colors of geopolitical achievement in the course of President 
Bush's State of the Union Address on 29 January 2002. 10 This occasion 
was seized to expand the scope of the war against global terror by 
extending its goals to include a series of countries, Iraq, Iran, and North 
Korea, which were provocatively labeled "the axis of evil/' Ever since 
that speech, the assumption has permeated media treatments and 
public attitudes that a US decision to wage war against Iraq had been 
made by the White House, and the only uncertainty that remained 
was related to the adoption of specific war plans, the extent, timing, 
and nature of the attack, the degree of dependence on a ground attack 
and the availability and relevance of Iraqi opposition forces both 
inside and outside the country. 

This further turning of the screw by the US Government has moved 
the sanctions debate into the background, shifting world attention 
towards the avoidance of war. The UN is still pursuing a course that 
would suggest that a reliance on the inspections mechanism 
authorized by UNSC Res. 1441 could avert a second Gulf war. Despite 
this sidelining of sanctions, it remains important to consider the 
rf\ sanctions regime, which continues to impose hardships on the civilian rh 

v population of Iraq, from the perspective of international law and v 

morality. The sanctions regime, whatever else, stands before our 
political understanding of legality as a severe descent by the organized 
international community into criminality, subjecting it to serious 
analysis as to whether or not the wrongdoing and harm amount 
cumulatively to genocide. 11 


It seems helpful to separate the sanctions regime into five distinct 
phases, each of which poses the question of legality and morality in 
a different way: 

1 . pre-war reliance on sanctions in the months after the Iraqi invasion 
of Kuwait in August 1990; 

2. immediate post-war reliance on sanctions to achieve compliance 
with Security Council Res. 687; 

3. persisting reliance on sanctions during the UNSCOM period in 
the face of growing evidence of civilian suffering; 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Iraq, the United States, and International Law 23 

4. shift to "smart sanctions" to deflect criticism of early sanctions 
regime, and to sustain UN consensus for their imposition; 

5. maintenance of sanctions as a secondary policy, with increasingly 
blatant "war talk" as the primary policy, threatening a military 
attack unless a satisfactory regime change in Baghdad occurs. 

Pre-war sanctions 

It is of great importance to distinguish between the imposition of com- 
prehensive sanctions by virtue of UNSC Resolution 660 prior to and 
after the initiation of the first Gulf War on 15 January 1991. In the 
months following Iraq's conquest and annexation of Kuwait in August 
1990, the approach advocated publicly by the United States, and 
adopted by the United Nations Security Council, was to endorse 
Kuwait's right of self-defense and to seek a resolution of the conflict 
by a combination of diplomacy and sanctions. The limited goals of 
this policy were to restore fully the sovereign rights of Kuwait, and 
to impose on Iraq the costs of the harm inflicted. The issue of Iraqi 
actual and potential possession of weaponry of mass destruction was 
not part of the UN engagement in this phase. Such a response to the 
Iraqi invasion received wide and genuine support, including support 
from the members of the Security Council with the sole exception 
-^3~ °f Yemen, which abstained. Reliance on sanctions, even if it meant ~^y~ 

im posing hardships on Iraq's population, was seen as reasonable and 
appropriate means to obtain Iraqi withdrawal, and the best way to 
fulfill the Charter goals of protecting states that have been victims 
of international aggression while doing everything possible to avoid 
recourse to war. In this fundamental sense, sanctions prior to the 
1991 Gulf War were fully consistent with international law and 
morality, and enjoyed the virtually unanimous backing of the 
membership of the United Nations, including most of the countries 
of the Middle East. 

Indeed, to the extent criticism was made, it moved in the direction 
of advocating a greater reliance on the mix of sanctions and diplomacy, 
especially providing more time to generate effective pressure on 
Baghdad. A related criticism was that the United States did not 
genuinely seek a diplomatic resolution of the dispute, and put forward 
the demand for withdrawal in such unconditional and rigid terms 
as to ensure that the Iraqi government would respond negatively, 
thereby building the US case for war. The UN Secretary -General at 
the time, Javier Perez de Cueller, supports the view in his memoirs 
that a somewhat more flexible approach might well have achieved 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


24 Iraq 

the stated UN goals without war. 12 However, even then, for undisclosed 
reasons, Washington preferred a military solution that would eliminate 
Iraq as a regional power and as a threat to the Gulf oil reserves and 
to Israel. Part of this preference was the possibility of connecting the 
aggression against Kuwait with the quite separate concerns arising 
from Iraq's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including 
biological, chemical, and nuclear weaponry. Only with war, and an 
imposed ceasefire, could this wider security concern be addressed, as 
was done in Resolution 687, which established the mandate for 
destruction and inspection of such capabilities. 

Post-war realities 

In contrast, the perpetuation of sanctions by way of UNSC Resolution 
678, in the period after the ceasefire and Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, 
was justified initially as leverage needed to ensure compliance with 
Iraq's various obligations to make various amends for the harm 
inflicted, as well as to satisfy the most serious disarmament demands 
imposed on a sovereign state since the end of the two world wars. It 
is to be noted that after World War 11, in contrast to the punitive 
reparations burden imposed on Germany after World War 1, the 
rf\ defeated countries were not subjected to economic sanctions. On the rh 

co ntra ry, d es pi te the terri b 1 e ha r m they ha d i nf 1 i c ted , thes e c ou ntri es 
were given help with economic reconstruction, and soon achieved 
positive economic growth. 

The devastation wrought by the war in Iraq was extensive, including 
the civilian infrastructure. The former president of Finland, Martti 
Ahtisaari, presented a report to the UN on the basis of a fact-finding 
mission, shortly after the military campaign ended, that indicated 
the destruction of Iraq's entire industrial and modern sectors, 
suggesting that it had literally been bombed back to a pre-indus trial 
reality. 13 Declassified documents from the US Defense Intelligence 
Agency (D1A) confirm early complaints that the United States delib- 
erately targeted the civilian infrastructure of Iraq, especially the water 
treatment system, with the acknowledged purpose of disrupting 
civilian life throughout the country. 14 Under these circumstances, the 
imposition of comprehensive sanctions was legally and morally 
dubious from the outset. It was perfectly obvious that the war had 
left Iraq in a situation of great vulnerability to a major health crisis, 
and that increasing pressures by sanctions would exact a heavy toll 
on the civilian society. 13 To go ahead with comprehensive sanctions 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Iraq, the United States, and International Law 25 

under such circumstances would seem certain to have the effect of 
imposing massive indiscriminate death and illness on the civilian 
population, while, ironically, exempting the military and political 
leadership oflraq from harm, thus engaging the moral, and possibly, 
the legal responsibility at some level of those countries that supported 
post-war sanctions. Such an approach to implementing the agreed 
ceasefire also eroded the legitimacy and moral standing of the United 
Nations, first, for agreeing to sanctions given its knowledge of their 
probable effects, and then, for extending the ceasefire to cover aspects 
of coercive disarmament and inspection that were not closely 
connected with the claim of collective security that was put forward 
as a proper justification for the war. 

Sustaining the sanctions 

As the months and years went by, evidence accumulated to confirm 
what should have been anticipated: the sanctions were exacting an 
enormous toll among the civilian population, and were doing virtually 
nothing to hamper the activities and lifestyle of the Iraqi elite. The 
US Government favored the maintenance of a tough sanctions regime 
even in the face of well-documented reports detailing the suffering 
of the Iraqi people, contending in the notorious words of Madeleine 
-^3~ Albright in 1996 (while serving as US ambassador at the UN and not ~^y~ 

long before becoming Secretary of State), when confronted by statistics 
as to the loss of life among Iraqi women and children, "[w]e think 
the price is worth it/' 16 

Humanitarian considerations were only part of the disquiet 
experienced by governments when asked periodically to extend the 
sanctions under UN auspices. Similar hostility was expressed in 
various ways by public opinion outside the United States. Another 
part of the growing anti-sanctions movement within the UN had to 
do with the degree to which the United States was seen to be throwing 
its weight around in the UN and elsewhere, without finding a path 
that could lead to a quick resolution. Closely related here was the 
European concern that business opportunities in the Middle East, 
especially in the field of energy development, were being sacrificed 
for no plausible reason. 

Maintaining sanctions under these conditions certainly seems to 
run counter to international humanitarian law, as well as to the 
more general just-war doctrine in its application to sanctions. The 
most basic concept embedded in the law of war at the close of the 
nineteenth century, in the Hague Convention, was the idea of 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


26 Iraq 

agreements by governments that force could be legally used in warfare 
only if directed against military targets and the related broad 
injunction against the "unlimited" use of force against an enemy state. 
Admittedly, there are conceptual and interpretative issues present. 
International law is directed at states, not at international organiza- 
tions such as the UN; the imposition of sanctions in this 
comprehensive form was initially authorized and periodically 
reaffirmed by the Security Council. Is the Security Council bound 
by the restraints of international humanitarian law? There are no clear 
answers given by existing international law to such questions. By 
analogy and by moral reasoning, it would seem that the UN as 
political actor should not be exempt from rules of behavior which 
seek to protect civilians from the ravages and excesses of warfare, but 
can such an analogy be legally relied upon in the absence of its 
acceptance by the UN Security Council? Cautiously, then, it could 
be concluded that the maintenance of sanctions, given the evidence 
of their effects, is both immoral and in violation of the just-war 
doctrine, involving three separate aspects: sanctions as applied seem 
indiscriminate, disproportionate, and have little prospect of achieving 
the ends being pursued. 17 

-C^- The move to smart sanctions -C'X- 

In response to the rising tide of a nti -sanctions sentiment, especially 
in Europe, the United States took a series of backward strides from 
its preferred unyielding position so as to prevent the international 
consensus from falling apart. It had earlier agreed to an oil-for-food 
program that allows Iraq to sell its oil on the world market, importing 
civilian goods, with the use of the revenues by Iraq scrutinized by 
the UN Office of the Iraq Program (OIP) in such a cumbersome and 
restrictive way as to compromise the humanitarian rationale. 18 In May 
2001 after elaborate diplomatic negotiations in which the United 
States did its best to maximize sanctions while retaining the support 
of the Security Council, a much heralded move to "smart sanctions" 
was finally approved by the UN. 19 Then, in November 2001, with 
the adoption of UNSC Resolution 1382, the sanctions regime 
somewhat modified this focus, banning all traded goods that had 
military or dual-use applications. Any Iraq overseas contract is subject 
to scrutiny, and rejection by UN administrative action. Any member 
of the Security Council can delay a contract almost indefinitely by 
seeking review if any of the challenged items appear on the extensive 
Goods Review List. The OIP turns any questionable contract with 


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Iraq, the United States, and International Law 27 

Iraq over to the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and 
Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic 
Energy Agency (IAEA) to determine whether the traded goods are 
related to Iraqi military applications. The so-called 661 Committee 
of the Security Council has the last word on whether a contract 
survives this review process. 

In reality, Iraq appears to have circumvented many of the 
constraints associated with the early years of sanctions via internal 
adaptation and regional smuggling arrangements designed to sell oil 
outside the sanctions regime, especially to Syria. Iraq and the UN 
have played a cat-and-mouse game related to the renewal of 
inspection, which at times has turned into a bargaining move, 
exchanging access by inspectors for a gradual lifting of sanctions. In 
addition, the smuggled goods tend to reflect state priorities relating 
to security and regime stability rather than the alleviation of the 
humanitarian tragedy. While the US has at times seemingly accepted 
the situation, it has nevertheless maintained a degree of ambiguity 
by stressing its lack of confidence that inspection will be able to 
determine whether Iraq is observing its obligation to refrain from 
the production, development, and possession of weaponry of mass 
destruction. In recent months this ambiguity has almost been entirely 
Xy suppressed by the unilateralist climate of opinion in Washington ~x3~ 

that expresses its intention to take whatever steps are necessary to 
achieve a regime change in Baghdad. As a consequence, sanctions 
seem of diminishing relevance both to advocates of a hard line on 
Iraq, who favor a military solution, and advocates of normalization, 
who favor an end to sanctions. 

What became clear long before 1 1 September is that, to the extent 
that sanctions were seeking political results beyond a punitive effect, 
their impact was negligible even though they were maintained for 
more than a decade in the face of strong objective evidence that 
massive loss of civilian life was being caused month by month over 
the course of many years. Consequently, it can be concluded that the 
indiscriminate civilian suffering caused was not "collateral", especially 
after the initial period when it might have been reasonable to suppose 
that over time the sanctions would erode internal support for Saddam 
Hussein's leadership, possibly stimulating internal and external Iraqi 
forces to achieve a regime change. Despite this assessment, and by 
making adjustments of the sort involved in the adoption and admin- 
istration of smart or selective sanctions, without the intervening 
reality of 11 September American-led policy toward Iraq would in all 


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28 Iraq 

likelihood have maintained its futile course indefinitely, squeezing 
the people of Iraq without any realistic hope of achieving political 
objectives. Of course, some supporters of the US approach argue that 
sanctions did succeed to the extent of keeping Saddam Hussein 
pinned down, "within his box" to use Beltway jargon. zo Further, 
without sanctions, Iraq would have by now acquired a formidable 
arsenal of weaponry of mass destruction. Even if this latter conjecture 
is accurate, there is no reason to doubt, particularly in light of the 
1991 Gulf War and US/Israeli regional security policy, that 
containment and deterrence could be relied upon, with every prospect 
of success, to minimize the risk of Iraqi expansionism. A careful 
examination of Iraqi behavior under Saddam Hussein discloses an 
ambitious approach to the use of power in regional settings, but also 
a rational one to gains and losses, and a willingness to back down 
rather than to engage in self-destructive warfare. In effect, then, 
sanctions after 1 991 were essentially punitive and, although supported 
by the UN, seemed to violate the most fundamental values embodied 
in international humanitarian law, and arguably raise plausible 
allegations of genocide. Some have argued that, although they were 
atrocities, the sanctions do not qualify as genocide because there is 
no showing of specific intent. zl 

-©- -e- 

From sanctions to war 

There is no doubt that 1 1 September created an opportunity for those 
seeking regime change in Iraq to acknowledge tacitly the failure of 
the sanctions approach, yet still escalate their demands with respect 
to Iraq. Recourse to war against al-Qaida gave the Bush Administration 
great latitude in foreign policy. There were attempts in the immediate 
aftermath of the attacks to intimate that there were Iraqi connections 
with al-Qaida, a supposed meeting in Prague between an Iraqi intel- 
ligence official and Mohammed Atta, the claim that Iraq was behind 
the anthrax dispersal, and other more generalized allegations of the 
connections between Iraq as rogue state and the new threats posed 
by mega -terrorism. 

However, the decisive move was made in the 2002 state of the 
Union address when Iraq headed the list of "axis of evil" states, and 
a doctrine of pre-emption was set forth by President Bush. Drawing 
on public anxieties about mega -terrorism, Bush declared that "axis 
of evil" countries with the will and capability to produce weaponry 
of mass destruction posed severe threats, not so much through the 
likelihood that such weapons would be used directly, but rather that 


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Iraq, the United States, and International Law 29 

they would be transferred to al-Qaida and possibly other terrorists 
groups with global agendas. Without explicitly indicating that an 
attack upon Iraq was forthcoming, the clear implication of what Bush 
and others in Washington were saying was that it would do what was 
necessary to supersede the Saddam Hussein regime thereby achieving 
regime change comparable to Afghanistan. 

It is important to underscore the degree to which such war talk is 
at odds with the most fundamental rules and principles of inter- 
national law, as well as being incompatible with the just-war tradition 
that continues to be influential in religious and ethicist circles. 
Throughout the twentieth century there were major efforts to outlaw 
non-defensive wars, the core undertaking of the UN Charter being 
designed to fulfill the pledge of the Preamble "to save succeeding 
generations from the scourge of war/' The Nuremberg/Tokyo pros- 
ecutions of German and Japanese leaders after World War II proceeded 
on the premise that aggressive war was a crime against the peace, and 
that, as such, was the most serious form of international criminality. 
The Charter was drafted to minimize the role of subjective factors - 
self-serving explanations by governments as to why war is justifiable. 
The Nicaragua decision of the World Court in 1986 upheld this 
A\ Charter approach as also being contained in general international law A\ 

v applicable under all circumstances of conflict. It is arguable that the v 

11 September attacks by al-Qaida cannot be addressed within this 
template of modern international law as the threat and capability 
cannot be territorialized, and the idea of defensive force needs to be 
extended to enable a threatened state to protect its people and uphold 
its security. Z2 Such reasoning does not apply in the setting of the axis 
of evil states, since deterrence offers an adequate way to reconcile 
containment with the avoidance of war- the security policy used by 
both sides in the Cold War for over 40 years. In this regard, the war 
talk directed at Iraq is a direct challenge to the overall framework of 
modern international law concerning war/peace issues. If war is 
unleashed against Iraq, it will establish a dangerous and unaccept- 
able precedent validating recourse to international force in a wide 
range of circumstances. First of all, anticipatory defense and preventive 
war would be used as a rationale. Secondly, recourse to war would 
be undertaken by the United States without a UN mandate, and 
without even the collective procedures invoked to justify recourse to 
war in 1999 in relation to Kosovo. 


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30 Iraq 


The Iraq experience with sanctions needs to be understood by 
reference to the five distinct temporal intervals discussed above. No 
blanket generalizations can be applied to the sanctions regime as a 
whole. The imposition and maintenance of sanctions after the 1991 
Gulf War needs to be condemned as a deliberate and indiscriminate 
policy designed to inflict harm on the civilian population of Iraq. The 
UN discredited itself by endorsing sanctions, although efforts were 
made to mitigate the humanitarian catastrophe being caused by 
initiatives of the Secretary -General and others, and the UN generally 
is no stronger and more accountable under international law than 
it is leading members permit. Accordingly, it is the United States and 
the United Kingdom, the most ardent proponents of sanctions and 
the enforcers of the no-fly zones, who bear a particularly heavy 
political, legal, and moral responsibility for the harm inflicted on 
the people of Iraq. 

The debate about sanctions was superseded at the end of the 
Afghanistan War by the debate about recourse to an American-led 
war against Iraq. President George W. Bush claimed that such a war 
^fx was necessary as part of the a nti- terrorist campaign that represented ^k 

^ the American response to 11 September. Most of the world disagreed, vu 

despite the general recognition that Saddam Hussein was an oppressive 
ruler who had committed numerous crimes against humanity during 
his period as head of state. In an attempt by the Bush administra- 
tion to build greater international support for the war, the United 
States agreed to work through the UN as of September 2002 so as to 
give Iraq one last chance to avoid war. The Security Council was 
persuaded to establish a very intrusive mechanism of unconditional 
inspection that Iraq accepted, presumably seeking to avert the 
threatened American attack. This inspection process was tasked with 
the job of ensuring the complete "disarmament" of Iraqi weapons 
of mass destruction, with Iraq facing the prospect of "serious conse- 
quences" if it foiled the inspectors or was found to be in "material 
breach" of the operative Security Council Resolution, 1441. As the 
process went forward it was evident that there was a widening gap 
between the American-led war party and the French-led inspection 
party. At the time of writing, it seems as though the French will 
prevail within the UN, and the US will proceed with its war plans in 
defiance of the UN. 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Iraq, the United States, and International Law 3 1 

Despite this overshadowing of sanctions by the clouds of war, 
however, it is important to assess the sanctions imposed on Iraq that 
set the stage for the initiation of an aggressive war. What we should 
learn from this reliance on sanctions, first, to induce Iraq to withdraw 
from Kuwait, and then for more than ten years as a punitive peace 
in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, is that such a policy can have 
devastating effects on the civilian population. This is especially true 
when the sanctions are imposed on a country whose centralized 
water purification system has been destroyed. Indeed, in such a setting 
sanctions are both more indiscriminate than war itself and more life- 
threatening as the experience of Iraq since 1991 demonstrates. In 
such circumstances, sanctions amount to the continuation of war, 
without even the loose constraints of international humanitarian 
law. For the United Nations to have formally endorsed such a sanctions 
policy when these realities were widely reported, and essentially 
uncontested, is a severe blight upon its own mission to prevent war 
and to raise the moral standards of the world politics, especially 
concerning the protection of vulnerable peoples confronting a human- 
itarian disaster. Let us hope that these dismal lessons of Iraq sanctions 
will be learned, and the suffering caused to the people of Iraq will 
tx not be repeated elsewhere in the future. ^ 


1. For an excellent overview that covers these issues see Roger Normand and 

Christoph Wilcke. "Human Rights, Sanctions, and Terrorist Threats: The 
United Nations Sanctions Against Iraq/' Transnational Law &■ Contemporary 
Problems, Vol. 11, No. 2 (Fall 2001), pp. 299-343. 

2. See Eric Schmitt. "US Plan for Iraq is Said to Include Attack on 3 Sides/' 
New York Times, 5 July 2002; see also: editorial, "Battle Plans for Iraq/' 
New York Times (6 July 2002), p. A26. 

3. A valuable overview has been provided by Sarah Graham-Brown. 
Sanctioning Saddam: the politics of intervention in Iraq (New York: LB. Tauris, 

4. See the early and respected assessment of the civilian impact of the 
sanctions imposed after the 1991 Gulf War by the Harvard Study Team 
that visited Iraq several times during 1991. Albert Acherio and others. 
"Effect of the Gulf War on Infant and Child Mortality in Iraq/' New 
England Journal of 'Medicine, Vol. 327 p. 931; see also "Unsanctioned Suffering: 
A Human Rights Assessment of United Nations Sanctions on Iraq, " Center 
for Economic and Social Rights, May 1996. 

5. These two civil servants have become prominent civil society campaigners 
against sanctions in the years following their resignation. See Denis 
Halliday and Hans von Sponeck. "The Hostage Nation: Former UN Relief 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


32 Iraq 

Chiefs Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday Speak Out Against an Attack 
on Iraq/' Guardian (29 November 2001). 

6. For accounts of this controversial inspection process under UN auspices 
see Richard Butler. The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction 
and the Growing Grisis in Global Security (New York: Public Affairs, 2000); 
Scott Ritter and others. ENDGAME: Solving the Iraq Problem: Once and For 
All (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999); Tim Trevan. Saddam's Secrets: 
Ihe Hunt for Iraq's Hidden Weapons (London: HarperCollins, 1999). 

7. As is consistently the case when liberal militarism seeks to appease the 
hard right, the criticisms of Clinton's foreign policy that have surfaced 
since 1 1 September have emphasized its reluctance to use force suffi- 
ciently to intimidate Islamic extremism. Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami 
have been particularly influential in mounting such lines of criticism, 
partly to support moves toward waging war against Iraq, and partly to 
give assent to the approach taken in the Afghanistan War. 

8. For an argument along these lines see Richard Falk. The Great Terror War. 
(Northampton, MA: Interlink, 2003). 

9. For text see White House website, 

10. For text see White House website, 

11. Compare George E. Bisharat. "Sanctions as Genocide/' Transnational Law 
&■ Contemporary Problems, Vol. 11, No. 2 (2001), pp. 379-425 with Joy 
Gordon. "When Intent Makes All the Difference in the World: Economic 
Sanctions on Iraq and the Accusation of Genocide/' Yale Human Rights 
SrDevelcpment Law Journal ,Vol. 5 (2002), pp. 1-27. Gordon argues against 
the inference of genocideby stressing the degree to which specific intent 

C^) is an essential element of the crime, and not present in relation to the C^) 

sanctions policy. 

12. See Javier Perez de Cueller. Pilgrim for Peace: A Secretary General's Memoir 
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997). 

13. Ahtisaari, a respected international figure, revealing the conditions 
prevailing in Iraq when comprehensive sanctions were re-imposed, wrote 
in the report: "The recent conflict has wrought near- apocalyptic results 
upon the economic infrastructure of what had been, until January 1991, 
a rather highly urbanized and mechanised society. Now, most means of 
modem life support have been destroyed or rendered tenuous. Iraq has, 
for some time to come, been relegated to a pre- industrial age, but with 
all the disabilities of post- in dust rial dependency on an intensive use of 
energy and technology." Report to the Secretary-General on Humanitarian 
Needs in Kuwait and Iraq in the Immediate Post-Crisis Environment by a 
Mission Led by Mr. Mar tti Ahtisaari, Under-Secretary-General for Administration 
and Management 10-1 7 March 1991, UN SC OR, Annex, UN Doc. S/22366. 

14. See the devastating account based on these declassified documents by 
Thomas J. Nagy. "The Secret Behind the Sanctions: How the US 
Intentionally Destroyed Iraq's Water Supply/' The Progressive (August 
2001); also Felicity Arbuthnot. "Allies Deliberately Poisoned Iraq's Public 
Water Supply in Gulf War," Sunday Herald (Scotland) (17 September 2001). 

15. As Bisharat, "Sanctions as Genocide," observes, m 4, p. 381; beyond other 
considerations, Iraq's particular vulnerability to sanctions "was increased 
by its relative geographical isolation, its reliance on oil pipelines, and its 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Iraq, the United States, and International Law 33 

limited shipping access, which made an embargo simple to enforce/' 
citing Graham -Hughes, note 3, p. 73 as source. 

16. This statement was made in the course of the following exchange on 60 
Minutes: "We have heard that a half million children have died/' said 60 
Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl, speaking of US sanctions against Iraq. "I 
mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And. ..and you know, 
is the price worth it?" To which Ambassador Albright replied, "I think 
this is a very hard choice, but the price.. .we think the price is worth it." 
Michael Schwartz. "US Takes Selfish Stance in Relations Throughout the 
World/' U-Wire (14 February 2001) available at: 
topops021 401 00 1 .htm. 

1 7. The just-war criteria are well expressed in the context of Iraq in an article 
primarily concerned with the prospect of war against Iraq, but is applicable 
to the sanctions discussion as well. See George Hunsinger. "Iraq: Stop the 
War/' in Robert McAfee Brawn in Memoriam f Presbyterian Outlook (2002). 
See also Drew Christiansen and Gerard F. Powers. "Economic Sanctions 
and the Just-War Doctrine/' in Economic Sanctions: Panacea or Pea cebuilding 
in a Post-Cold War World (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995), pp. 97-1 1 7. 

18. See Richard Garfield. "Health and Well-Being in Iraq: Sanctions and the 
Impact of the Oil-for-Food Program/' Transnational Law &■ Contemporary 
Problems Vol. 11, No. 2 (2001), pp. 277-98. 

19. See helpful summary assessments by Sarah Graham-Brown. "Sanctions 
Renewed on Iraq/' MERIP Information Note 96 (14 May 2002). See also 
George A. Lopez. "Toward Smart Sanctions on Iraq/' Policy Brief No. 5 
(April 2001); Marc Lynch. "Smart Sanctions: Rebuilding Consensus or 

(V\ Maintaining Conflict?" MERIP } 28 June 2001. (T\ 

20. Even Ihe Nation in a recent editorial endorsed an approach to Iraq that 
rests on renewed inspection and selective sanctions, partly as an alternative 
to war, partly as a containment plus strategy of meeting what it acknowl- 
edges to be an Iraqi threat. "War on Iraq is Wrong/' Ihe Nation (19 June 
2002), pp. 3-4. 

21. SeeBisharat, "Sanctions as Genocide/' and Joy, "When Intent Makes All 
the Difference/' for serious scholarly explorations of the relevance of 
genocide to the sanctions regime. 

22. This position is fully developed in Falk. Ihe Great Terror War, Chapters 2 
and 3. 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

2 Power, Propaganda and 

Indifference: An Explanation 
of the Maintenance of 
Economic Sanctions on Iraq 
Despite their Human Cost 

Eric Herring 

Indifference is the rejection of common humanity} 

The United Nations Security Council imposed economic sanctions 
on Iraq in August 1990 in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, 
and those sanctions were still in place in March 2003, though with 
the prospect of being lifted in the wake of a US-led invasion. What 
explains the continuation of the sanctions despite voluminous 
evidence of their human cost in terms of the blighted lives of millions 
-\y- and premature deaths of hundreds of thousands? 2 This is a crucial -Q- 

question for those who have opposed the sanctions on principled, 
humanitarian (as opposed to pragmatic, instrumental) grounds, yet 
little attention has been paid to it. The growing academic and policy 
literature on the sanctions on Iraq focus more on their human cost, 
their political effectiveness, whether and how their human cost can 
be reduced or their effectiveness increased, whether they should be 
lifted, whether they are legal, whether a US-led war should be endorsed 
to bring about their lifting or how they relate to the broader theory 
and practice of sanctions. 3 That officials (by which I mean politicians 
and civil servants at both national and international levels) are willing 
to accept the human cost is a given for this literature: how it is they 
can think that way is left unexplored. Social, ethical and international 
relations theorists could shed significant light on this but have shown 
almost no interest in the sanctions on Iraq. 4 Nor have those who see 
themselves as working in what they call critical security studies, 
premised explicitly on a commitment to common humanity as 
opposed to prioritizing one fraction of humanity over another in the 
pursuit of some supposed national or other sectional interest. 3 I share 
that ethical commitment to common humanity and argue in this 



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The Maintenance of Economic Sanctions on Iraq 35 

chapter that a crucial underpinning of an acceptance of the human 
cost of the sanctions on Iraq has been the denial of the common 
humanity of people in Iraq. 

The answer to the question I posed needs to be considered at two 
levels. The first is the specifics of why the sanctions have been 
maintained, and the second is the permissive, more general set of 
assumptions that enable officials to think in terms of those specifics. 
I start out with the first level, and examine the argument that it is 
all very simple - the sanctions achieve important political objectives 
at acceptable human cost. I then go on to examine what makes it 
possible to see that human cost as acceptable. Some officials argue 
that, while the human consequences of the sanctions have been 
terrible, what matters most is that those consequences were 
unintended. In contrast, I argue that, in many respects though not 
all, the human consequences of the sanctions are intentional. It is 
noteworthy that the human cost of the sanctions has not made them 
unacceptable to most of the public in the state principally responsible 
for keeping the sanctions in place, namely the United States. I argue 
that this is to a great extent due to the manufacture of consent 
through the news media in terms of the rarity of coverage of the 
human cost of the sanctions and also in terms of how that human 
Xy cos t is framed. I examine the role of propaganda in this process, and ~x3~ 

the ways in which officials engage in self-deception as well as 
deception, and in which bureaucratization fosters indifference to the 
human cost of the policy. In combination, this analysis provides an 
answer to the question I posed. In Michael Herzfeld's terms, it explains 
the acceptability of "behavior that 'normally' - that is, when the 
victims are seen as insiders rather than outsiders - would be outrageous 
and even psychopathic/' 6 It is an account of how those who run the 
sanctions are able to preside over such havoc and live with themselves. 
Even if the sanctions are lifted following a US-led invasion, this 
question of how such a devastating policy could continue for so 
many years is of great significance. 


The apparently simple answer to my question of why the sanctions 
have continued despite their human cost is, as Madeleine Albright, 
then US Ambassador to the UN, put it infamously in response to the 
figure of 500,000 dead children in Iraq: "the price is worth it/' 7 In 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


36 Iraq 

other words, the political gains outweigh the human cost. However, 
far from there being one sensible account of the sanctions there is a 
mass of overlapping and competing accounts. It is routine to divide 
views on the sanctions into pro and anti positions. That does indeed 
represent an important dimension of what is going on. However, it 
is not simply that those in favor of the sanctions all agree that they 
are aimed at making Iraq comply with the relevant UN resolutions; 
that they have achieved a great deal of Iraqi compliance; and that 
all of the human cost of the last twelve years can be attributed solely 
to Saddam Hussein. Nor do all opponents of the sanctions take the 
line that the sanctions are aimed at the overthrow of Saddam Hussein; 
that the sanctions have actually allowed him to tighten his grip on 
the country; and that the sanctions are the main reason for the 
suffering in Iraq. Instead, individuals have more complex, ambivalent 
and shifting sets of preferences and disagreements over the objectives 
and "ownership" of the sanctions. 

In terms of objectives, the sanctions are variously seen as aimed 
at securing Iraqi compliance with UN Resolutions; overthrowing 
Saddam Hussein; overthrowing anyone, including his successors, 
who are not compliant with US wishes; or serving a broader US 
strategy of global dominance. 8 The relationship between sanctions 
-^3~ an ^ overthrow has been disputed. Has it been to make the lives of ~^y~ 

ordinary Iraqis so miserable that they will accept the risks associated 
with an uprising, or to bring about a coup from within the Iraqi elite, 
probably by the armed forces? Others have interpreted the sanctions 
not in terms of overthrowing Saddam Hussein but, on the contrary, 
keeping him in power in order to prevent a breakaway Kurdish state 
in the north and the establishment of a Shi'ite Islamic state in the 
rest of the country, but weak enough to prevent him from launching 
a military challenge to US oil interests in Saudi Arabia. Arms control 
motivations are seen by some as residing at the core of the policy 
(limiting Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical weapon, and ballistic 
missile capabilities) and by others as mere propaganda cover (because 
those same countries had previously sold Iraq military and dual-use 
technology and provided financial assistance to Iraq at the peak of 
its efforts to acquire such capabilities). Related to this is disagree- 
ment over whether or not the actors involved even want the sanctions 
to be lifted. The starkest version is that neither the United States nor 
Iraq want the sanctions to be lifted as they achieve various goals only 
possible through their presence such as a permanent sense of 
emergency and siege. The United States effectively controls most of 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The Maintenance of Economic Sanctions on Iraq 3 7 

Iraq's finances while Saddam Hussein has extended his control within 
most of Iraqi society through the population's reliance on handouts. 
In contrast, some hold the view that one side but not the other wants 
the sanctions lifted, while disagreeing on which side is which. 
Furthermore, according to journalist Stephen Farrell: "a senior UN 
official in the Middle East.„believed that the only reason sanctions 
were still in force in their present form was because no one could be 
seen to back down/' 9 Hence the sanctions can be seen in terms of 
symbolic politics (such as looking tough or at least not looking weak) 
in which the achievement of the stated policy objectives is irrelevant 
or at least secondary. 

There is even dispute over whose sanctions they are. Do the 
sanctions symbolize the will of the "international community" made 
manifest in UN resolutions? Or the hijacking of the UN by the United 
States through the use of its Security Council veto with Britain as its 
poodle? Are the United States and Britain the only actors responsible 
enough to take on the tough tasks of both trying to ensure that Iraq 
does not acquire prohibited weapons and dual-use technologies but 
does adhere to a system in which the proceeds from Iraqi oil sales 
are spent on the Iraqi people and individual and corporate victims 
of the invasion of Kuwait in 1990? From this perspective, only the 
Xy United States and Britain have the political courage to take the flak ~x3~ 

for making hard choices while countries like France and Russia are 
so focused on chasing lucrative oil contracts dangled in front of them 
by Iraq that they ignore the threat posed by Saddam Hussein inter- 
nationally and to the people of Iraq. Another way of looking at the 
policy ownership issue is that current national and UN level decision- 
makers did not choose the sanctions policy but inherited it from 
their predecessors. Decision-makers often continue with policies put 
in place by their predecessors even if they would not have chosen 
to adopt them in the first place, perhaps because of the uncertain- 
ties and criticism they may face. Policies acquire inertia as they 
become institutionalized and normalized, making for a tendency 
towards only incremental change (of course, this is only a tendency 
rather than a rule, as decision-makers can and do institute basic 
policy shifts). 

Moreover, the supposedly simple answer suggested above is not an 
objective assessment but is, in international relations theory terms, 
a realist one. The basic thrust of this version of a realist view is that 
the sanctions are instrumentally necessary to deal with a major, even 
apocalyptic, threat to US interests. While some realists might make 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

38 Iraq 

a different, more relaxed assessment of the threat, the key enabling 
feature of realism is a particular view of identity and the ethics of 
responsibility. For realists, the practical and ethical responsibility of 
decision-makers is solely to the citizens of their own state, hence 
costs borne by populations of other states are simply irrelevant unless 
they result in political pressures which may undermine the 
achievement of national political goals. John Mueller and Karl Mueller 
argue that Americans do not care much about the death of foreigners. 10 
However, they do not probe why it is that Americans (supposedly) 
think that way. They also take us in the wrong direction by essen- 
tializing the notions of "American" and "foreigner." In other words, 
they treat those concepts as if they have a single, fixed and self- 
evident meaning. Not all Americans actually think that way - not 
all are indifferent to the loss of foreign lives, either generally or in 
this specific case, as can be seen in the work of the US citizens within 
the Iraq Action Coalition (1AC) which opposes the sanctions on 
principled, humanitarian grounds. 11 Writing the way Mueller and 
Mueller do unwittingly excludes from "America n-ness" those who 
do care. To such 1AC activists, a US citizen who does not care about 
the human cost of the sanctions is in significant respects more 
"foreign" than a citizen of another state that does care about them. 
-^3~ How one comes to see oneself and others is a vital part of making it ~^y~ 

possible to accept or reject the continuation of the sanctions with 
their related human cost. In the end we need a more complex picture 
of how the sanctions have been maintained, and an important 
element of that picture has been the representation of the human 
cost of the sanctions as unintended. 



Intentions matter, and intending to inflict human cost is morally 
worse than not intending to inflict it. Hence, for example, whereas 
some leaders have sought the death of vast numbers of people, mass 
death is not an objective of the sanctions. Furthermore, remedial 
measures have been instituted which have been intended to reduce 
the scale of suffering in Iraq, especially since 1996 and the establish- 
ment of the UN Oil For Food (OFF) program permitting Iraqi oil 
exports from which most of the proceeds go towards the purchase 
of humanitarian goods under UN supervision. Another difference is 
that the killing is indirect rather than direct: in other words, the 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The Maintenance of Economic Sanctions on Iraq 39 

deaths are caused by shortages of necessary items rather than by 
individuals being executed or bombed. As Mueller and Mueller put 
it, the deaths caused by sanctions are "dispersed rather than concen- 
trated and statistical rather than dramatic/' 12 

This means that responsibility for the deaths is much less obviously 
attributable or intentional. However, when we say that we did not 
intend something to happen, it usually means that a consequence 
was not functional to the pursuit of our objectives, was unexpected, 
the product of omissions rather than actions, unavoidable, something 
we try to end or reverse once we become aware of it, or some 
combination of these. There is a clear sense in which the human cost 
of the sanctions is functional to various versions of the objectives of 
the sanctions. Iraqi society is a resource for Saddam Hussein to survive 
and be powerful. Damaging Iraqi society can contribute to limiting 
his power or reducing his chances of survival, and it can also be seen 
as a means of putting pressure on Saddam Hussein to comply with 
the relevant UN resolutions. Consequences matter as well as 
intentions, and where consequences are anticipated and, once they 
have occurred and are known, culpability is increased. From the 
outset, the huge scale of death and suffering in Iraq was a fully 
anticipated consequence of the sanctions due to their reinforcement 
Xy of the effects of Iraq's long war with Iran in the 1980s and especially ~x3~ 

of US-led bombing in 1 991 , 13 When those anticipated consequences 
became a reality, the sanctions continued. 

Furthermore, the human cost in Iraq is not merely a product of 
omissions, but of actions as well. 14 The sanctions were set up and run 
one way rather than some other way even though it is correct to say 
that the sanctions would not have been imposed if Iraq had not invaded 
Kuwait. This is particularly important in that international law and 
human rights conventions do not give decision-makers, at the state 
or UN level, the right to act in any way they see fit in pursuit of their 
perceived interests. In this vein, the UN General Assembly's Inter- 
Agency Standing Committee of UN, non-governmental and 
inter-governmental humanitarian agencies emphasized to the Security 
Council that: "The design of a sanctions regime should. ..take fully 
into account international human rights instruments and humani- 
tarian standards established by the Geneva Conventions/' 13 In a report 
commissioned by the UN, Belgian law Professor Marc Bossuyt concluded 
that: "The sanctions regime against Iraq is unequivocally illegal under 
existing international law and human rights law" and "could raise 
questions under the genocide Convention/' 16 Hence culpability is 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


40 Iraq 

further deepened by the fact that these omissions and actions are those 
not of just any actors but of those with specific role responsibilities. 

The avoidability or otherwise of consequences also comes into 
play. Even within the sanctions regime, much of the human cost 
could have been avoided by offering from the outset a large-scale 
program of supervised oil sales for humanitarian supplies. Instead, 
the offers that were made by the UN in 1991 involved an unspecified 
share of a one-off lump sum of money (working out at approximately 
$73 per person). A revised offer made in 1995, and accepted by an 
economically shattered Iraq in 1996 as the OFF program, at least 
specified and increased the amount of money to be available for 
humanitarian supplies. 17 The offers of remedial action allowed pro- 
sanctions officials to refuse to accept blame for the human cost by 
enabling them to argue that a humanitarian program had been offered 
to Iraq: making a strictly humanitarian offer aimed at saving Iraqis 
was not a priority. 

In sum, the human cost of the sanctions has been instrumental 
in the pursuit of policy objectives, anticipated, known, a product of 
actions rather than omissions, avoidable, subject only to limited 
remedial action and that remedial action has clearly not been 
motivated primarily by a desire to avoid that human cost. These 
-^3~ points do not undermine the unintentionality defense completely, ~^y~ 

because we need to retain the capacity to identify and condemn those 
who do intend such things in the sense that the human cost of a policy 
is seen as an end in itself. However, even here the distinction is not 
absolute because what they have in common is a strong streak of 
indifference, involving both an uncaring awareness of human cost 
and also a sheer lack of attention to that human cost through 
avoidance of thinking about it or acting to avert it. What 1 wish to 
turn to next is a consideration of the extent to which the US public 
- the people in the state which matters most in retaining the sanctions 
through the US veto in the UN Security Council and UN Sanctions 
Committee, and through US political efforts more broadly - are aware 
of what is going on and are indifferent even if they are aware. 


One of the main tactics of a nti -sanctions campaigners has been to 
publicize the human cost of the sanctions in the belief or at least 
hope that public disquiet would bring about the end of the sanctions 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The Maintenance of Economic Sanctions on Iraq 41 

on humanitarian grounds. Whether or not this belief or hope is valid 
needs to be examined. One possibility is that the US public do know 
of the human cost and most of them do not care greatly for the 
reasons indicated above. This is the view of Mueller and Mueller: "In 
fact the news media have covered the story, albeit limitedly, but 
stories that do not incite much response from their audiences tend 
not to be followed up (so much for the famed 'CNN effect')/' 18 We 
do not have the research to support or refute this analysis. It is just 
as plausible that there is a correlation in general terms between the 
limited amount of coverage and the limited amount of public concern 
- more coverage could therefore produce more public concern. A 
productive line of enquiry here might be to explore the role of the 
Internet. Having had their concern triggered by a small amount of 
coverage, some may have responded not by writing to traditional 
outlets such as the New York Times but may instead have turned to 
Internet sources, including those of anti-sanctions campaigning 
groups, to find out more. Madeleine Albright's comment of the price 
being "worth it" is now staple campaigning material amongst anti- 
sanctions groups. 19 As Mueller and Mueller note correctly, that 
statement did not result in a massive US public outcry, but it is unclear 
whether or not that was because most people in the United States 
-^3~ see the world Albright's way. ~^y~ 

On the notion of a CNN effect- in which mainstream news media 
coverage produces a public response which in turn forces a change 
of a policy to which a government had been committed - Mueller 
and Mueller are right to be skeptical. Piers Robinson has shown that 
the CNN effect is a myth: space for news media influence is severely 
limited, primarily to areas of policy in which the government is 
divided or uncommitted. zo Instead, the news media usually 
manufacture consent in the sense that, while the news media can be 
adversarial, they are generally only adversarial within a framing of 
the situation broadly shared by the government. Z1 Hence, what 
matters is not only the volume of coverage of the human cost of the 
sanctions, but also the nature of it. The manufacture of consent 
model predicts that coverage will be framed in a way that creates 
emotional distance with regard to that cost, casts doubt on the role 
of US policy in bringing it about, or provides justification for it. Z2 

For example, Albright's comment was made in the context of a 
report titled "Punishing Saddam/' instead of, say, "Punishing Ordinary 
Iraqis For the Crimes of Their Dictatorial Leader/' Another good 
example of this kind of framing occurred when the Guardian reported 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


42 Iraq 

the fact that the campaign group Voices in the Wilderness had 
imported into the UK half a ton of Iraqi dates in deliberate breach 
of the sanctions as an act of civil disobedience. While Voices will 
have been gratified to get front-page coverage, they would have been 
displeased to have the coverage framed by the following headline: 
"Say No to Saddam This Christmas - Turn Down A Date/' z:j This 
framed Voices as asking people to say "Yes to Saddam", and the 
headline even instructed the reader as to how to act. 

The proposal for supposedly "smart" sanctions (presented as 
involving plans for tighter control of Iraqi revenues but an increased 
flow of civilian goods into Iraq) emerged in 2001 from the British 
government with qualified US support. A major purpose of the 
proposal was to ensure that Saddam Hussein rather than Britain and 
the United States would be blamed for the suffering in Iraq. The 
preceding year, UN Secretary -General Kofi Annan was worried that 
the UN was taking the blame: 

here we are accused of causing suffering to an entire population. 
We are in danger of losing the argument, or the propaganda war 
- if we haven't lost it already - about who is responsible for this 
situation - President Saddam Hussein or the United Nations. Z4 

-e- -e- 

News media coverage critical of the sanctions was boosted by the 
fact that Russia and especially France were active opponents of the 
US and British approach to the running of the sanctions. For example, 
the French Permanent Mission at the UN actively promoted negative 
coverage of US decisions on the UN Sanctions Committee not to 
permit various exports to Iraq in the hope that the United States 
would be embarrassed into relenting. However, one should not be 
too quick to assume that the "smart" sanctions proposal was the 
result of publicity for the human cost of the sanctions. It is at least 
as likely that it was triggered by the crumbling of the sanctions, 
principally in the form of increasingly successful efforts by the Iraqi 
government to earn money through smuggled oil and through under- 
the-table payments for oil sales permitted by the UN. 

If the occasional item is broadcast or published which contradicts 
the dominant framing, it is unlikely to have more than a marginal 
impact overall, even if it does produce an initial flurry of attention 
outside that smaller sub-cultural group which shares its framing. 
Anti-sanctions campaign groups tend to be well aware of these issues 
and hence put substantial efforts into challenging the dominant 


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The Maintenance of Economic Sanctions on Iraq 43 

framing of the sanctions in the news media as well as expanding 
their sub -cultural group through their campaigning activities. The 
occasional appearance of an item which contradicts the dominant 
framing is helpful for the manufacture of consent because it can be 
held up as "proof that all voices are heard and the a nti -sanctions 
campaigners are the losers in a free market of ideas. 

In order to shape news media coverage and public perceptions in 
their favor, the US and British governments engage in propaganda 
exercises. These are characterized sometimes by outright lies (which 
are easy to refute) and more often by misrepresentations of facts and 
analyses (principally those of the UN). Reports are quoted selectively 
so as to change their meaning, and inconvenient facts are left out 
with the aim of deceiving the audience into arriving at a different 
conclusion from that contained in the original reports. zs For example, 
UN reports indicating that medicine has not been distributed are 
used as the basis for the claim that the Iraqi government is deliber- 
ately not distributing them, when those UN reports indicate that the 
problems are due to other issues such as large volumes of arrivals 
that have caused distribution backlogs. 

In response to accusations of lying and deliberate misrepresenta- 
tion, there is an appeal to politeness and some sort of vague liberalism: 
-^3~ what can be criticized are arguments but not intentions, honesty or ~^y~ 

integrity. Robert Solomon has noted the phenomenon of "the belief 
that even if this particular 'fact' is false, the truth that the lie is 
protecting is far more significant than the act of lying. " Z6 1 came 
across a striking case in an interview with an official who accepted 
that UN reports were misrepresented to play down the human cost 
of the sanctions and blame it solely on the Iraqi government. However, 
1 was informed that 1 was merely thinking about "micro truths" when 
the "macro truth" is that the sanctions policy is the right policy. The 
defense of this offered was that if officials were truthful about what 
was happening, the public would be unhappy, and the public do not 
want to be unhappy and do not want to know, and so it is the 
democratic duty of the state to comply with these wishes and tell the 
public either nothing or what they want to hear. When journalists 
and academics lambast officials for misrepresenting the human cost 
of the sanctions and responsibility for them, some officials feel that 
the criticism is unfair because they are doing their democratic duty 
whereas academics and journalists are elected by no one and are 
telling the public what they do not want to hear and so are anti- 
democratic. This is what 1 call the "propagandist as victim" defense. 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

44 Iraq 

There is an old saying that diplomats are honest persons sent 
abroad to lie for their country. Whatever lies they tell, they are still 
honest. Note that the buck stops nowhere - not even with the person 
committing the act. Z7 There is an associated defense that, if 1 didn't 
do it, someone else would. This has never been an acceptable defense 
for a thief or murderer and yet some officials are quite happy to use 
it for themselves. Officials may engage in self-deception as well as 
deception of others. Self-deception involves, in Ted Honderich's 
definition, "avoidance of evidence, or of pointers or clues, with the 
aim of avoiding belief. " Z8 That way one does not have to deal with 
a situation if one remains unsure that it exists, or is sure that it does 
not exist. Officials will sometimes not see a connection between their 
actions and the resultant human cost because they do not want to 
see it. Distance between cause and effect assists both deception and 
self-deception. Self-deception is made much easier when one operates 
in an environment in which those deceptions are shared, and even 
more so where internalizing the deceptions is vital as proof of loyalty 
and indeed competence. Great value is placed on skill in making 
those deceptions at least plausible so that people who are reasonable 
and open-minded, but have not examined the original sources, come 
to believe them or at least are willing to entertain the possibility that 
Xy t ne Y are true. Self-deception plays an important role in sustaining ~x3~ 

indifference because it allows for the evasion of personal responsi- 
bility. Indifference and irresponsibility can reinforce each other 
strongly within bureaucracies, and the sanctions policy has spawned 
an extensive bureaucracy. 


Within bureaucratic roles there is substantial room for individual 
choice and thus for personal responsibility. Some find their position 
within a bureaucracy intolerable and resign so that they can work 
for fundamental policy change. This has famously been the case with 
Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, both of whom resigned the 
post of UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq to campaign against 
the sanctions. Their job was not to enforce the sanctions directly but 
to try to run a humanitarian programme within its limitations. Others 
stay in their posts and speak up vigorously about significant aspects 
of the policy. Kofi Annan, current UN Humanitarian Coordinator in 
Iraq, Tun Myat and Executive Director of the UN Office of the Iraq 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The Maintenance of Economic Sanctions on Iraq 45 

Program (OIP), Benon Sevan, fall into this category. 29 Myat has stated: 
"If by resigning today sanctions would be lifted tomorrow I would 
be very happy to do so/' 30 Most commonly, bureaucrats are loyal. 
Some have doubts, but keep their heads down and look forward 
earnestly to the day they get transferred to a new posting in another 
area. Others with doubts push them to the back of their mind. Those 
who remain loyal often argue that they can achieve more working 
from within than from outside. This tends to be the case with British 
officials who will not disagree publicly with the United States on 
sanctions policy, and who claim that they can exercise a moderating 
influence on the United States in contrast to France and Russia which 
they say criticize the United States openly and are ignored. Voicing 
disagreement publicly is thus presented as self-indulgent and 
ineffective, and they feel hard done by in being categorized with the 
United States when the sanctions are criticized. While that can be 
true, it is also the case that, as Albert Hirschman noted: "Opportunism 
can.„be rationalized as public-spirited, even better it can masquerade 
as secret martyrdom/' 31 

For some, doubts never surface. The mutual reinforcement of 
individual indifference and the dynamics of bureaucratization is 
rf\ broughtoutclearlyin Hannah Arendt's study of Adolf Eichmann, the ff\ 

SS Lieutenant-Colonel who was chief of the Jewish Office of the 
Gestapo during World War II. His task was to arrange for the killing 
of Jews and others deemed undesirable by the Nazi regime. 32 Eichmann 
escaped to Argentina after the war but was abducted by Israel and 
tried and convicted by an Israeli court in 1961 and hanged in 1962. 
Experts in Israel found Eichmann to be psychologically normal in 
terms of his relationships with family and friends and to be devoid 
of fanatical anti-Semitism or ill-feeling at all towards his victims. 
Similarly, those who run the sanctions are neither crazy nor driven 
by a passionate desire to bring about the deaths of Iraqis. Iraqis have 
died in huge numbers nonetheless. In referring in the subtitle of her 
book to "the banality of evil", Arendt is suggesting that such people 
are not characterized by great drives. On Eichmann she commented: 

Except for an extraordinary diligence in looking out for his personal 
advancement, he had no motives at a\[..„He merely.., never realized 
what he was doing. .It was sheer thoughtlessness - something by 
no means identical with stupidity - that predisposed him to become 
one of the greatest criminals of that period. 33 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


46 Iraq 

Those who run the sanctions are career officials, with their 
performance in handling this difficult and important assignment 
likely to have a substantial impact on their career trajectory. What 
some of them worry about more is a dead-end job than the dead that 
are the end result of their job, just as what Eichmann felt most pained 
by was his belief that he had not been promoted as far or as fast as 
he thought he should have been. This kind of individual indifference 
reinforces and is reinforced by the dynamics of bureaucracy. Arendt 
suggests that "the essence of totalitarian government, and perhaps 
the nature of every bureaucracy, is to make functionaries and mere 
cogs in the administrative machinery out of men, and thus to 
dehumanize them/' It appears to be "the rule of Nobody/' 34 

For those relatively low down in the system, there can be a sense 
of not really being in charge of the policy because of their minor 
role, and so they will tend to concentrate on trying to carry out their 
allocated task to the best of their abilities. For those further up the 
bureaucratic ladder, the sanctions will be only one of many tasks 
they are juggling at any one time and this also promotes disengage- 
ment from the realities of the task. They can comfort themselves that 
they are acting on expert advice and therefore in making a decision, 
actually have no choice. Leaders like British Prime Minister Tony 
-^3~ Bi air and US President George W. Bush know very little about Iraq, ~^y~ 

while many of those supposed experts are actually officials who have 
rotated in their posts from other completely unconnected areas and 
hastily occupy themselves with becoming fluent in, and internaliz- 
ing, existing propaganda. In other words, it is possible for everyone 
involved in carrying out a policy to not really feel responsible for it. 
A policy can thus appear to acquire a momentum of its own, and that 
appearance assists the evasion of responsibility. As Herzfeld puts it, 
blaming the system "is the ethical alibi that enables its own func- 
tionaries to function/' 33 Blaming the system is a way of saying that 
there is no point in opposing the bureaucracy, rather than saying 
one fears the costs to oneself of doing so. 

A way of blaming the system is to reify bureaucratic rules, that is, 
act as if the rules are transparent and have fixed meaning; then 
officials can hide their politics and personal choices behind them. 
They can present their actions as simply following fixed rules and 
deny to others and themselves that they are interpreting the rules 
for ideological or personal purposes. 36 When others with different 
ends do the same, what is really going on - a battle of reifications as 
part of a power struggle - becomes obscured by what is claimed to 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The Maintenance of Economic Sanctions on Iraq 47 

be going on - a struggle over the true meaning of words. Opponents 
in this situation try to beat each other at the game of who is most in 
line with "transparent" language. As long as this is the case, the 
parties to this dispute effectively "institutionalize the evasion of 
responsibility in the name of responsibility itself/' 37 All of the bureau- 
cratic rules and resolutions which make up the sanctions require 
interpretation, and those interpretations are informed by normative 
values and political objectives. This does not mean that interpreta- 
tions are completely arbitrary. For example, whether or not an item 
is on the UN's "1051 list" (that is, its list of items related to United 
Nations Security Council Resolution 1051, some of which Iraq is not 
allowed to import and most of which it is allowed to import as long 
as the UN gives its permission) can usually be verified against the fairly 
precise descriptions on the list. 

The rules by which the sanctions are run on a day-to-day basis still 
leave plenty of wiggle room for politics, as all such things must. 
When Iraq wishes to import something, the contract for that import 
must by approved by the UN OIP or the UN Sanctions Committee, 
the membership of which mirrors that of the UN Security Council. 
The system up to May 2002 for contracts that went to the Sanctions 
Committee was that any member of that committee could "block" 
Xy a contract (that is, veto a contract completely) or put it on "hold" ~x3~ 

(that is, refuse to approve it until some specified condition is met or 
concern is addressed). Only the Sanctions Committee member which 
imposed the hold could lift it. In practice, few OFF contracts were 
blocked whereas many were put on hold. 38 Nearly all of the holds 
were imposed by the United States, and nearly all of the remainder 
by Britain. The application of the rules was driven predominantly by 
political choices presented by those who made those choices as being 
derived from the rules. The US representative on the Sanctions 
Committee imposed "holds" on contracts for proposed Iraqi imports, 
claiming that they contained 1051 items. When the UN Monitoring, 
Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOV1C) challenged 
those claims in some cases, the US representative was sometimes 
forced to drop the claims. The new reason given was that holds were 
imposed because contracts contained items which were "dual use" 
for civil and military purposes, without providing a definition of 
dual use or explaining why the 1051 list was inadequate. This 
persistent vagueness meant that some holds could be effectively 
permanent because the action required to get the hold lifted was 
unclear, allocated funds were tied up and unavailable for other urgent 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

48 Iraq 

humanitarian purposes, and it would not be possible to ensure that 
items to which the United States might object could be omitted from 
future contracts. 39 One British official 1 interviewed defended the US 
position by saying that "UNMOVIC is not serious about arms control/' 
The reason given was that UNMOVIC's job is merely to check items 
against a list, whereas the job of the US representative on the Sanctions 
Committee is to look out for US national security interests. The same 
official also argued that when US Department of Defense experts 
looked at the contents of contracts, they were worried that if they 
let an item go through they could end up in trouble for looking too 
soft and they knew that all the political rewards lay with appearing 
to catch Iraq trying to do something underhand. When being quizzed 
on holds, an exasperated Benon Sevan said: "Don't look for logic in 
the Iraq programme. There is no logic/' 40 Similarly, the UN's oil 
experts complained that there was no consistency in whether or not 
a hold would be placed on proposed exports of particular items of 
oil industry equipment to Iraq. 41 

There is no logic if by that we mean the straightforward application 
of clear rules, but that can never be the case - rules invariably work 
within one political logic or another, and avoiding serious damage 
to the UN's humanitarian program is not at the forefront of the 
-^3~ political logic used by Britain and especially the United States. This ~^y~ 

is not necessarily a concern with preventing Iraq from getting 
prohibited items: it has also provided a way of expressing more general 
hostility towards the Iraqi government. Efforts to alter the UN's 
procedures for running the sanctions are part of an effort to wrest as 
much power as possible from the United States in the running of the 
sanctions to protect the OFF humanitarian program. In December 
1999, the United States agreed to accept the establishment of "green 
lists" of goods which could be approved by the OIP bureaucracy and 
not require the approval of the US representative on the Sanctions 
Committee. However, the United States fought a rearguard action to 
restrict what went on the green lists, right down to objecting to paint 
and light switches. 42 $7.9 billion of the total $31 .3 billion of contracts 
approved byjanuary 2002 had been fast-tracked through the green 
lists system. The United States also compensated by imposing many 
holds on contracts containing non-green list items. Injanuary 2002, 
Sevan wrote to the Chair of the Sanctions Committee to express his 
"grave concern at the unprecedented surge in volume of holds placed 
on contracts/' 43 The figure for holds was already at a record high of 
$3.93 billion on 7 September 2001. Byjanuary 2002 it had risen to 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The Maintenance of Economic Sanctions on Iraq 49 

$4.96 billion. 44 Despite Sevan's voicing of his concern, holds reached 
another all-time high of $5.32 billion on 28 February 2002. 4S This 
seems to be part of the hardening US line on Iraq after the 11 
September 2001 attacks on the United States rather than a result of 
the failure of the contracts to conform to the rules of the sanctions. 46 

The new system which the US and British government called 
"smart" sanctions was adopted via UN Security Council Resolution 
1409 of May 2002. All items which are not on the UN Goods Review 
List of dual use items (that is, civilian technologies which also have 
potential for use in developing prohibited weapons) are approved 
automatically. Items which are on the GRL may be blocked or may 
still be approved, possibly with the requirement for specific additional 
UN monitoring in Iraq. Hence entire contracts are not put on "hold" 
over the presence of specific items, and the green lists were abandoned 
in favour of the GRL. Furthermore, with the green lists everything 
that is not specifically permitted for export could possibly be denied, 
whereas with the GRL everything that is not specifically an item of 
concern is to be permitted. By 7 March 2003, $2.2 billion worth of 
holds on 1118 contracts had been lifted through the GRL system. 
However, it does not address the fact pointed out by Sevan that the 
rf\ OFF program "is increasingly facing a financial crisis" due to falling rh 

Iraqi oil income. As of 7 March 2003, there was no money to pay for 
2,632 approved OFF contracts worth some $5.1 billion. 47 Even more 
important, if "smart" sanctions are meant to be ones which minimize 
the human cost of such a policy, then the new system is certainly 
not "smart" because it does not address the basic reason for the 
continuing suffering in Iraq. According to Myat: "The markets are 
quite full of things, the problem is whether or not there are people 
who have the purchasing power to buy them. Until such time as 
people can reasonably afford to buy and live naturally everything else 
you will see will only be superficial." 48 Ordinary Iraqis need proper 
wages rather than handouts, the economy needs international 
investment and the sanctions have prevented both. 

These inter-bureaucratic struggles on holds, green lists and the 
GRL underline the point that all bureaucrats are not equally indifferent 
or evasive of personal responsibility. There is clear evidence of 
individuals speaking out publicly and/or working quietly to use their 
resources to reduce the human cost of the sanctions. Some UN officials 
emphasize that the OFF program was only meant to be temporary, 49 
and that it was never expected to be able to meet all the needs of the 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


SO Iraq 

people of Iraq or be a substitute for a return to normal economic 
activity. 30 OIP officials put pressure on both the US and Iraqi 
governments to act in ways which would optimize the effectiveness 
of the UN's humanitarian programme. For instance, they attack a 
characteristic feature of the exercise of power and expression of indif- 
ference through bureaucracy, namely, acting as if time is a matter of 
no importance. Clearly, in a situation in which there is large-scale 
suffering and death due to lack of vital items, time is of the essence. 
In its weekly updates and other reports the OIP has sought to draw 
attention to this. It pointed out that, as of January 2002, over $1.7 
billion of contracts were still on hold even though information 
requested by the "holding" Sanctions Committee member (in nearly 
all cases the United States) had been submitted over 60 days previously. 
At the same time the OIP pointed out that $0.3 billion of contracts 
had been on hold for over 60 days as additional technical information 
demanded by the "holding" Sanctions Committee had not been 
submitted by suppliers. In addition, it drew attention to the fact that 
the Iraqi government had not yet spent around $1.8 billion and £ 0.6 
billion available to it in the OFF account (it had done so by late 
February 2002) . 31 The prompt and extensive posting of documenta- 
tion to the OIP website has in many respects been a crucial resource 
-^3~ t0 those who are challenging indifference to what is happening to ~^y~ 

people in Iraq. However, it has also been a resource for those prop- 
agandizing in favor of the sanctions. The OIP presents itself as an 
even-handed advocate of a non-political approach to the OFF program 
but all of its statements are politically significant. It needs to judge 
carefully whether its statements are having the political effects it 
intends (but does not always do so). Despite its self-proclaimed image, 
it is not and cannot be non-political. 


The sanctions on Iraq have been maintained despite their human cost 
because US officials believe that the sanctions serve US interests while 
the cost to people in Iraq is acceptable. How it has been able to portray 
the situation that way with some success has been the subject of this 
chapter. With British assistance, it has worked hard on propaganda 
campaigns based on misrepresentations of what is actually going on. 
US and British officials often end up believing their own propaganda, 
as it is psychologically easier to accept it as the truth and also because 
their facility in working within that framework is an indispensable 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The Maintenance of Economic Sanctions on Iraq 5 1 

part of being accepted within their national bureaucracies. Underlying 
this is a basic indifference to the human cost in Iraq of the sanctions 
which is made possible by seeing those people as less worthy of 
concern. Comments made by Bush are instructive: "any time anybody 
suffers in Iraq, we're concerned about it.„[T]° tne extent that the 
sanctions are hurting the Iraqi people, we're going to analyze that/' 32 
This is not an expression of total indifference - he did not state "I 
do not care/' However, the basic indifference is evident: there is an 
evasion of any direct admission that the sanctions are hurting anyone 
in Iraq, by suggesting that this is something in need of analysis at 
some undefined point in the future and by the United States. The 
vast amount of evidence gathered by many international bodies for 
many years counts for nothing. Claims of humanitarianism are false 
if thought and action are premised on the denial of common 
humanity. The maintenance of the sanctions for so long has been 
assisted by self-deception and indifference among officials of other 
states and the UN itself, and by some mix of indifference and pro- 
pagandization of the public in the United States and elsewhere. Noam 
Chomsky made a comment on the war fought by the United States 
in Vietnam which applies equally to the sanctions policy: 

-^3~ the. „ very. „ terrifying aspect of our society, and other societies, is ~^y~ 

the equanimity and detachment with which sane, reasonable, 
sensible people can observe such events. 1 think that's more 
terrifying than the occasional Hitler or LeMay or other that crops 
up. These people would not be able to operate were it not for this 
apathy and equanimity. „[T ne ] sane an d reasonable and tolerant 
people. „share a very serious burden of guilt that they very easily 
throw on the shoulders of others who seem more extreme and 
more violent. 33 

The people of Iraq face a long haul beyond the sanctions in relation 
to their country's crippled economy, compensation to be paid for 
losses related to the invasion of Kuwait, and external debt. 34 Bossuyt's 
recommendation that the people of Iraq to be compensated for the 
damage caused by the sanctions has gone unheeded. 33 Instead, the 
UN Compensation Commission has awarded $36 billion in compen- 
sation against Iraq and is considering further claims of $21 7 billion: 
if the pattern thus far is anything to go by, it will agree to $83 billion 
of that amount. The UN has already paid out $13 billion in compen- 
sation from the proceeds of Iraqi oil sales. Iran is also seeking $100 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

52 Iraq 

billion for losses due to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. By the 
beginning of 2002 Iraq had about $130 billion of external debt, and 
the figure is increasing steadily due to compound interest. As long 
as the sanctions are in place Iraq cannot even begin to address it. 
Against all of this, Iraq has exported $51 billion of OFF oil exports 
in five years, and has made some much smaller, uncertain amount 
through smuggling. To expect Iraqi society to bear this horrendous 
burden for the crimes and borrowings of a leader over whom it has 
had no control and who received Western backing while committing 
many of those crimes and amassing many of those debts is to combine 
indifference and evasion of responsibility in great measure. 


1. Michael Herzfeld. The Social Production of Indifference: Exploring the Symbolic 
Roots of Western Bureaucracy (Oxford: Berg, 1992) p.l. 

2. See the items in the sub-section of the CASI annotated list of information 
sources on the theme "The 
humanitarian impact of sanctions", especially the reports of the UN 
Secretary- General, the UN Office of the 
Iraq Program, and Ihe Human Rights Implications 
of Economic Sanctions on Iraq: Background Paper Prepared by the Office of the 

£2s High Commissioner for Human Rights for the Meeting of the Executive r^ 

v Committee on Humanitarian Affairs (New York, 5 September 2000), v For an analysis 
which produces an estimate of human costs at the lower end of the 
spectrum, see Amatzia Baram. "The Effect of Iraqi Sanctions: Statistical 
Pitfalls and Responsibility/' Ihe Middle East Journal, Vol. 54, No. 2 (Spring 

3. See CASPs annotated list of information sources, organized by source 
and theme. General works include Sarah Graham-Brown. Sanctioning 
Saddam: The Politics of Intervention in Iraq (London: I.B. Tauris, 1999); 
Anthony Amove (ed.). Iraq Under Siege: The Deadly Impact of Sanctions 
and War (London: Pluto Press, 2000); PaulConlon. United Nations Sanctions 
Managements Case Study of the Sanctions Committee, 1990-1994 (Ardsley, 
New York: Transnational Publishers, 2000); and Andrew Cockbum and 
Patrick Cockbum. Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein 
(London: HarperCollins, 1999). 

4. A rare exception to the lack of interest in the sanctions among theorists 
is Lori Buck, Nicole Gallant and Kim Richard Nossal. "Sanctions as a 
Gendered Instrument of Statecraft: The Case of Iraq/' Review of International 
Studies l Vol. 24, No. 1 (1998), pp. 69-84. However, it does not address 
the question I pose in this chapter. 

5. The two landmark critical security studies (CSS) books are Keith Krause 
and Michael C. Williams (eds). Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases 
(London: UCL Press, 1997); Richard Wyn Jones. Security, Strategy, and 


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The Maintenance of Economic Sanctions on Iraq S3 

Critical Theory (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1999). On the 
notion of humanity, see Theodore Zeldin. An Intimate History of Humanity 
(London: Minerva, 1994); and Jonathan Glover. Humanity: A Moral History 
of the Twentieth Century (London: Yale University Press, 1999). Much 
could also be gained from an exploration of the relevance of Jonathan 
Glover. Causing Death and Saving Lives (London: Penguin, 1977); and 
Stanley Cohen. States of Denial. Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering. 
Cambridge: Polity, 2001). 

6. Herzfeld, Social Production of Indifference, p. 28. 1 was encouraged to explore 
the relevance of the work of Herzfeld to the sanctions by reading Michael 
Barnett's reflections on its value for understanding how the United 
Nations did not act to prevent around 800,000 people from being 
murdered in Rwanda in 1994. See Michael N. Bamett. "Peacekeeping, 
Indifference and Genocide in Rwanda/' in Jutta Weldes, Mark Laffey, 
Hugh Gusterson and Raymond Duvall (eds) Cultures of Insecurity: States 
Communities, and the Production of Danger (London: University of 
Minnesota Press, 1 999), pp. 1 73-202. 

7. Report by Lesley Stahl. "Punishing Saddam", 60 Minutes, CBS Television 
(12 May 1996). To see the clip and associated commentaries, go to 
h om e. att. n et/% 7 E d re w. h am re/ d o c Alb . htm . 

8. For an analysis in which I assess which objective has been of most 
importance, see Eric Herring. "Between Iraq and a Hard Place: A Critique 
of the British Government's Case for Sanctions/' Review of International 
Studies, Vol. 28, No. 1 (April 2002), pp. 39-56. Whatever my view there, 
the point I am making in this chapter still stands: the simple view that 

C^) the sanctions are still in place because they achieve goals at acceptable C^) 

cost does not get us very far. For more of my papers on the sanctions on 
Iraq, go to 

9. Stephen Farrell. "UN Officials Round on Americans as 'Real Villains'/' 
The Times {Zl February 2001), 

10. John Mueller and Karl Mueller. "The Methodology of Mass Destruction: 
Assessing Threats in the New World Order," in Eric Herring (zd.). Preventing 
the Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (London: Frank Cass, 2000), p. 177 
(see also pp. 164, 180). Reprinted from the Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 
23, No. 1 (2000). See also John Mueller. "Public Opinion as a Constraint 
on US Foreign Policy: Assessing the Perceived Value of American and 
Foreign Lives/' National Convention of the International Studies 
Association, Los Angeles, CA, 14-18 March 2000, 


12. Mueller and Mueller. "Methodology of Mass Destruction", p. 1 77. 

13. Herring. "Between Iraq and a Hard Place", pp. 40-1. 

14. For an analysis of the relationship between omissions and actions, see 
Ted Honderich. "TheNew York Attack: Their Terrorism and Our Omissions 
- A Philosophical and Moral Argument", 
roromissions.htm>. Undated - accessed November 2001. 

15. Statement dated 29 December 1997 by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee 
to the Security Council on the Humanitarian Impact of Sanctions. Appendix 


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54 Iraq 

of Kofi Annan. Letter Dated 20 February 1998 from the Secretary-General 
Addressed to the President of the Security Council S/1998/147, 23 February 

16. Marc Bossuyt. "The Adverse Consequences of Economic Sanctions on 
the Enjoyment of Human Rights/' Working Paper: UN Economic and Social 
Council Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights 
(21 June 2000); see especially paragraphs 71, 72, 106, 109 as found at: 

17. Herring. "Between Iraq and a Hard Place", pp. 45-7. 

18. Mueller and Mueller. "Methodology of Mass Destruction", p. 1 77. 

19. Lesley Stahl. "Punishing Saddam", 60 Minutes. CBS Television (12 May 
1996). See note 7. 

20. Piers Robinson. "The CNN Effect: Can The News Media Drive Foreign 
Policy?" Review of International Studies t Vol. 25, No. 2 (1999), pp. 301-9; 
Piers Robinson. The CNN Effect: The Myth ofNews f Foreign Policy and 
Intervention (London: Routledge, 2002). 

21. The classic work here is Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. 
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: 
Pantheon Books, 1988). 

22. See Brian Michael Goss. "'Deeply Concerned About the Welfare of the 
Iraqi People: The Sanctions Regime Against Iraq in the New York Times 
(1996-98)," Journalism Studies t Vol. 6, No. 2, (2001), pp. 469-90. 

23. Ewen MacAskill. "Say No to Saddam This Christmas - Turn Down A 
Date," Guardian (20 December), 

® 0,4273, 4323408,00.html. The VitW website is ^-j-^ 

24. Evelyn Leopold. "UN Chief Suggests UN Losing Propaganda War on Iraq," vty 

24 March (2000), Reuters, dailynews. yahoo. com/h/nm/20000324/ 
wl/iraq_un_l .html. 

25. For numerous examples, see Herring. "Between Iraq and a Hard Place"; 
Voices in the Wilderness, "Myths and Realities Regarding Iraq and 
Sanctions," in Amove, Iraq Under Siege, pp. 67-75, 
vitw/mythsand%20realities3.html; CASI, Guide to Sanctions www.; and Hans von Sponeck, Letter, Guardian 
(4 January 2001), 
0,3604,417598, 00. html. Some anti- sanctions campaigners do the same 
(most commonly by attributing all of the increase in human cost in Iraq 
since the imposition of sanctions to the sanctions alone). 

26. Robert C. Solomon. "What a Tangled Web: Deception and Self- Deception 
in Philosophy," in Michael Lewis and Carolyn Saarni (eds) Lying and 
Deception in Everyday Life (New York: Guilford Press, 1993), p. 43. 

27. Herzfeld. Social Production of Indifference, p. 155. 

28. Honderich. "New York Attacks", no pagination. On deception and self- 
deception, see also C.R. Snyder, Raymond L. Higgins and Rita J. Stucky. 
Excuses: Masquerades in Search of Grace (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 
1996); Lewis and Saami. Lying and Deception; and W. Peter Robinson. 
Deceit, Delusion and Detection (London: Sage, 1996). 

29. See note 3. For a study of the choices facing those who work within 
bureaucracies and those who are their "clients", see Albert O. Hirschman. 


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The Maintenance of Economic Sanctions on Iraq 55 

Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations and 
States (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970). 

30. Quoted in Voices in the Wilderness UK press release. "Senior UN Official 
'Would Resign Today' If It Would End Economic Sanctions Against Iraq" 
(18 May 2002). 

31. Hirschman. Exit, Voice and Loyalty, p. 116. 

32. Hannah Arendt. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil 
(London: Penguin, 1964), revised and enlarged edition. 

33. Arendt. Eichmann in Jerusalem, pp. 287-8. See also p. 252. 

34. Ibid., p. 289. 

35. Herzfeld. Social Production of Indifference, p. 149. 

36. Ibid., p. 118. See also Jeff Schmidt's wonderfully perceptive book Disciplined 
Minds: A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System 
lhat Shapes Iheir Lives (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002). Excerpts 
and reviews are on Schmidt's website Ituncovers 
the ideological content of supposedly neutral professional training and 
bureaucratic procedures, and offers detailed practical recommendations 
for how to survive as a professional with your values intact. 

37. Herzfeld. Social Production of Indifference, p. 156. 

38. In contrast, there were many blocks as well as holds on contracts for 
proposed imports outside OFF paid for by whatever resources the Iraqi 
government can muster through activities such as oil smuggling. 

39. All of these points were made in the following document: Report of the 
Grohp of United Nations Experts Established Pursuant to Paragraph 30 of the 
Security Council Resolution 1284 (200C) (March), p. 98, 

C^) Depts/oip/reports/oilexp ertsreport.pdf. C^) 

40. Quoted in Stephen Farrell. "UN Officials Round on Americans as 'Real 
Villains'/' The Times (21 February 2001), 

41. Report of the Grohp of United Nations Experts, p. 98. 

42. Herring. "Between Iraq and a Hard Place", p. 48. 

43. UN News Center. "Head of UN Program Set to Visit Baghdad in Mid- 
January," New York: United Nations (8 January 2002), 
apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=2561&Cr=iraq &Crl=oil. 

44. UN OIP. Weekly Update (1-7 September 2001) (7 September 2001), UN OIP. "Weekly Update 
(15 December 2001-4 January 2002)" (8 January 2002), 
D epts /o ip /latest/ wu 08 J an 2 . html. 

45. UN OIP. Basic Figures (Status at 28 February 2002) (29 March 2002), 
w w w. un . o rg/D epts /o ip /latest/b as i c f i gu res . html. 

46. Carola Hoyos. "US Criticised Over Iraq Relief Contracts," Financial Times 
(9 January 2002), 

47. Benon Sevan. "Statement by Benon V. Sevan, Executive Director of the Iraq 
Programme, at the Informal Consultations of the Security Council, Tuesday, 
26 February 2002/; UN 
OIP. Weekly Update 1-7 March 2003 (11 March 2003), 
Depts/oip/background/latest/wu0303 1 1 .html. 

48. Quoted in Voices in the Wilderness. "Senior UN Official 'Would Resign 


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56 Iraq 

49. UN Security Council. (1995) Resolution 986. S/RES/986, 

50. (1999) Report of the Second Panel Established Pursuant to the Note by the 
President of the Security Council of 30 January 1999(5/1 999/ WC) f Concerning 
the Current Humanitarian Situation in Iraq. Annex II of S/1999/356 (30 
March), see especially paragraphs 46 and 58 

51. UN OIP. "Weekly Update (19-25 January 2002)" (29 January 2002),; see also: Benon Sevan. 
"Statement by Benon V. Sevan." 

52. President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair. 'Joint Press 
Conference/' Camp David, MD, 23 February 2001, 
news/releases/ 2001/02/2001 0226-1. html. 

53. Quoted in Mark Achbar (ed.). Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and 
the Media (London: Black Rose Books, 1 994), pp. 69-70. Arendt made a 
similar comment about Eichmann: "such remoteness from reality and 
such thoughtlessness can wreak more havoc than all the evil instincts 
taken together which, perhaps, are inherent in man" (Arendt. Eichmann 
in Jerusalem, p. 288). 

54. See UN Compensation Commission, and Abbas 
Alnasrawi, "Oil, Sanctions, Debt and the Future/' Paper presented to the 
CASI Annual Conference, 11 March 2001. 
c as i/ info /alnasrawi. html. 

55. Bossuyt. "Adverse Consequences of Economic Sanctions." 


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3 British Policy Towards 

Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 

Milan Rai 


While British policy-makers would no doubt rather place the sanctions 
on Iraq within the context of international non-proliferation efforts, 
or the defense of small nations (such as Kuwait) from "rogue states", 
it is much more appropriate to consider the siege of Iraq in the light 
of a long-standing British military tradition, a shameful but consistent 
strand of British "counter-insurgency" strategy over the centuries. 

By the late Middle Ages, we are told, European war "consisted very 
largely of military pressure involving the destruction of the means 
by which life is maintained." 1 This lesson was taught to the Irish by 
-C^- the British with brutal repetition over the ages. In the 1580s, during -C'X- 

the long Desmond rebellion, Sir William Pelham pursued a fourfold 
strategy against the Irish: drive the rebels out of Limerick and into 
the poor mountainous county of Kerry; blockade the Kerry coast to 
deprive them of supplies; devastate the country to deprive them of 
any sustenance; and finally, drive Desmond into one corner of the 
territory to be destroyed. 2 

In 1599 and 1600, the Earl of Essex and Lord Deputy Mountjoy 
scored significant victories against Irish rebels. The Earl surprised 
the O'Connors before they had hidden their corn, and his troops 
burned the harvest "so that all the county was on fire at once", as 
a contemporary (English) observer put it. The Lord Deputy, on the 
other hand, led a successful expedition to Leix and Offaly to cut 
down the corn and confiscate a number of cattle in July 1600, and 
then continued his campaign into the winter: "The enemy's cattle 
were wasted by being driven to and fro. The stored grain was sought 
out and burnt. The seed could not be sown. The Irish were driven 
into woods now bare of leaves." 3 



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58 Iraq 

The control of food continued to be a critical element in British 
(and US) " counter-insurgency" warfare throughout the imperial and 
post-colonial period. In the post-World War 11 Malayan Emergency, 
Britain expended considerable energy in attempting to cut off the 
food supply of the Communist Party of Malaya. Sir Robert 
Thompson, whose expertise in Malaya in the 1950s earned him the 
position of Special Adviser to the US military in Vietnam in the 
1960s, remarked later on the stringency of Emergency Regulations: 
"Very strict food control was enforced and in some areas rice was 
not only rationed but had to be cooked before issue (it quickly goes 
sour)" and "Tins of food had to be punctured as they were sold." 4 
The guerrillas could not be defeated militarily; they could be 
overcome only by hunger. 

The tactics employed in Ireland became part of an Anglo-Saxon 
military tradition transmitted to the United States. US General 
Sheridan explained the matter clearly in his memoirs: "1 do not hold 
war to mean simply that lines of men shall engage each other in 
battle.,, War means much more and is far worse than this. „ Reduction 
to poverty brings prayers for peace more surely and more quickly 
than does the destruction of human life." 3 
_T\_ The principle of attacking the civilian population was of course r ^\ 

v carried out more directly. In Ireland, the most famous of the many v 

British massacres was carried out in September 1649 in Drogheda, 
when Cromwell's soldiers took the lives of 3,500 men, women and 
children. Cromwell justified the blood-letting because it would "tend 
to prevent the effusion of blood for the future, which are the satis- 
factory grounds for such actions, which otherwise cannot but work 
remorse and regret." 6 A corollary principle was set out by the plain- 
speaking General Sheridan, contemplating one aspect of the 
destruction of Native America: "If a village is attacked and women 
and children killed, the responsibility is not with the soldiers, but 
with the people whose crimes necessitated the attack." 7 

Here we have two principles underlying British and US policy 
towards Iraq over the twelve years under review: the destruction of 
thousands of civilian lives (hundreds of thousands in the case of Iraq) 
is justified to prevent future loss of life (unquantified); and the burden 
of responsibility for this massive loss of life lies not with those who 
initiate and continue the attack, but with those whose actions "neces- 
sitated the attack." 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 59 


11 September has cast an enormous shadow across world affairs. The 
terrorist atrocities have provoked an extraordinary degree of self- 
questioning in the United States, alongside the predictable jingoist 
reaction. Western society has asked, "Why do they hate us?" and 
some painful answers seem to have been arrived at quite widely. Time 
magazine commented two months after the attacks: "liquidating the 
al-Qaida command will only fix part of the problem.. .The long-term 
solution requires tackling the underlying political, economic and 
social roots of terrorism - unresolved demands for Palestinian rights, 
perversion of Islam by radical clerics, corruption and poverty in many 
Arab states and grievances over US policy in the region'' (emphasis added). 8 
Newsweek carried an article by US historian Stephen Glain which 
observed that: "The embargo [against Iraq] fed the a nti -Americanism 
now consuming the Middle East and became a recruiting tool for 
Islamic militants, including Osama bin Laden/' 9 As momentum grew 
for a new US invasion of Iraq, Time warned that: "By fostering more 
anti-American resentment, a long-term neo-colonial presence in Iraq 
could breed a new generation of suicide bombers ready to wreak 
havoc on the US/' 10 One of the roots of 11 September seems to lie 
-Q- in the suffering inflicted on the people of Iraq for over a decade. -Q- 

Within Iraq, the economic sanctions have also had an embittering 
political effect: respected analysts Anthony Cordesman and Ahmed 
Hashim of the US Center for Strategic and International Studies 
comment that, "maintaining sanctions inflicts a high cost on the 
Iraqi people, and makes it progressively less likely that any future 
regime will not seek revenge/' 11 One of the "key policy complica- 
tions" in formulating an Iraq policy, they suggest, is the fact that 
"The Gulf and the West must live with the Iraq that UN sanctions 
are creating": 

The suffering caused by UN sanctions is creating broad Iraqi 
resentment of the US, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia -who are now seen 
as largely responsible for the continued enforcement of sanctions. 

The middle class, which had a good level of education and which 
was liberal and Westernized to a certain extent, is dying out and 
the West will pay the price for that. Its disappearance will open 
the way for broad inroads to be made by all the fundamentalist 
movements, no matter who they are. 


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60 Iraq 

Cordesman and Hashim warn that: "The resulting revanchism 
may well survive Saddam Hussein, and could play an important role 
in shaping Iraqi politics and actions for several decades/' 12 

if the UN attempts to enforce all of its current demands on Iraq in 
terms of sanctions, potential war crimes trials, reparations, and 
loan repayments, it may end in creating the kind of "peace the allies 
forced on Germany after World War 1": this was "a peace whichj. 
M. Keynes quite correctly warned the victorious powers could only 
lead to chaos and a second war/' 13 


There are at least three separate criteria one can use in evaluating (or 
designing) a sanctions regime: how much they respect human rights; 
how targeted they are; and how punitive they are. These different 
criteria are linked, a matter we will return to. 

Clearly, one central concern is the way in which sanctions affect 
the fundamental human rights of the targeted group. This is partic- 
ularly the case when the party imposing the sanctions is the United 
-^3~ Nations Security Council (UNSC). The Center for Economic and Social ~^y~ 

Rights (CESR), a New York-based human rights group, has pointed 
out that the UNSC is under a legal obligation to protect human rights: 
Article 24 of the Charter directs the Council "to act in accordance 
with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations" in the use 
of its authority to maintain peace and security. The CESR points out 
that: "Among the most fundamental Purposes and Principles listed 
in Article 1 is the promotion of human rights", and: "Indeed, the 
Preamble to the Charter begins by stating its determination 'to reaffirm 
faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of 
the human person/" 14 A large body of human rights law has developed 
since the end of World War 11 - from the Universal Declaration of 
Human Rights, unanimously endorsed by the UN General Assembly 
in 1948, to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified in 
1 990 by almost every country in the world. While the Security Council 
is not technically party to these treaties in the manner of a ratifying 
state, the CESR argues that "each of these treaties represents an 
elaboration upon the UN Charter's original vision of human rights, 
making the treaty principles (if not the specific provisions) binding 
on the Security Council" through Article 24 of the UN Charter. 13 In 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 61 

brief, the Security Council is obligated to act in accordance with 
human rights and humanitarian principles when pursuing collective 
action. To suggest otherwise is to ignore "not only the Charter but 
also common sense", observes the CESR, citing a World Court judge: 
"one only has to state the proposition thus - that a Security Council 
resolution may even require participation in genocide - for its unac- 
ceptability to be apparent/' 16 

The second important aspect of a sanctions regime is that of 
"distinction", or targeting. Distinction is an important concept in the 
"laws of war" - both humanitarian law based on the Geneva 
Conventions and the narrow laws of war based on the Hague 
Conventions and recent Additional Protocols to the Geneva 
Conventions. The UN General Assembly made it clear in 1968 that 
belligerents must distinguish between civilians and combatants at all 
times, and must direct attacks only against military targets - this is 
the principle of distinction. 17 Like military actions, sanctions can 
either be targeted or indiscriminate in their effects, depending on the 
means employed, the method of employment and the circumstances 
in which action is taken. In 2000 the House of Commons Select 
Committee on International Development considered the issue of 
sanctions, and "targeted" sanctions in particular: "The idea behind 
-^3~ targeted sanctions is that, rather than targeting all imports and exports ~^y~ 

of all goods and services to a given state under a sanctions regime, a 
limited range of goods and services are targeted." The UK government, 
in evidence to the Select Committee, accepted that "quite a lot of the 
product of our review [of sanctions policy] is precisely the conclusion 
that we need to move away from blunderbuss, hit the whole 
population type sanctions towards targeted, hit the regime and its 
supporters type sanctions." 18 The Select Committee focused its 
attention on financial sanctions and arms embargoes as workable 
forms of "targeted sanctions." 

The third dimension to any sanctions policy is how punitive it is. 
If punishment is the central goal and motivation of the sanctions, 
then this will affect both the structure and the thresholds of the 
sanctions regime. One can distinguish here between sanctions focused 
on the punishment of past behavior, and sanctions aimed at securing 
improvements in present and future behavior. Sanctions aimed at 
changing behavior will clearly offer relief in return for positive changes 
in behavior. Punitive sanctions will tend not to make such clear dis- 
tinctions, despite the fact that this lessens the incentive for change. 
When the sanctions are complex and large-scale, there is the 


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62 Iraq 

opportunity for a gradual lifting of sanctions in response to positive 
changes in behavior. Punitive sanctions, on the other hand, will be 
all-or-nothing, maintaining the full weight of sanctions measures 
until total compliance is achieved. Turning to another aspect of 
"punishment/' the thresholds for compliance are of critical 
importance in determining whether incentives are being provided 
for positive behavior, or whether the intent is rather to cause harm. 
A improvement regime will offer clear, realistic and limited 
benchmarks of achievement, which will secure the end of sanctions. 
A punitive assault will offer vague, confusing, and extendable 
thresholds. In sum, a punitive sanctions regime provides sticks without 
carrots, and moving goalposts. 

For each of these three dimensions, one can establish a spectrum. 
A sanctions system can embody high respect for human rights, low 
respect for human rights, or no respect for human rights (the zero 
point). Conceivably, a sanctions system could be designed to violate 
human rights (the negative region). Similarly, a sanctions regime can 
be tightly focused on decision-makers (highly targeted), or it can be 
a "blunderbuss" affecting the civilian population (highly untargeted, 
the negative region). On our last measure, a sanctions regime can be 
focused on eliciting positive future behavior (highly positive), or it 
Xy can be focused on punishment of past misconduct (highly negative). ~x3~ 

The three measures tend to correlate positively with one another, 
and it could be argued that they also correlate positively with "legality" 
and perhaps even with "effectiveness" (depending on the definition 
of effectiveness). We can apply this three-dimensional analysis to 
the Security Council's approach towards the sanctions regime against 
Iraq, and British Government policy, at key points over the period 

AUGUST 1990 

Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the United Nations Security 
Council Resolution (UNSCR) 661 of 6 August 1990 called for all 
countries to halt all trade and financial dealings with Iraq (and Iraqi- 
occupied Kuwait). The clear purpose, stated in the final paragraph of 
the resolution, was to "put an early end to the invasion by Iraq." The 
British Government was, by Margaret Thatcher's own account, 
influential in the decision to resort to economic sanctions early on. 19 
The crucial point to note here is that the measures instituted by 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 63 

UNSCR 661 amounted to comprehensive economic sanctions. All 
economic and financial trade was halted, with some humanitarian 
exceptions - "supplies intended strictly for medical purposes, and, 
in humanitarian circumstances, foodstuffs/' UNICEF adviser Dr Eric 
Hoskins comments, "customary international law forbids the 
starvation of civilians/' and Iraq, a net food importer, "was already 
showing signs of food shortage even before the war had begun, with 
malnutrition rates on the rise, food prices escalating, and, during the 
war itself, early signs of famine in evidence/' Dr Hoskins notes: "The 
Security Council's prohibition of foodstuffs is viewed by most legal 
scholars as being in breach of customary international law/' zo 

There is no reference to human rights in UNSCR 661, and the 
Center for Economic and Social Rights charges the Security Council 
with a double dereliction of duty on this score. According to the 
CESR, the Security Council failed procedurally, by not setting up any 
form of monitoring for the human-rights impact of the sanctions 
imposed, and it failed substantively, by violating the human rights 
of the ordinary people of Iraq. On the first matter, the CESR believes 
that the Security Council had a legal duty to "recognize explicitly its 
obligation to promote and respect core principles of human rights 
and humanitarian law, and to take concrete measures to monitor 
-^3~ an ^ hold itself accountable to these principles/' Such procedural ~^y~ 

duties are "especially important" for the Security Council "given that 
no other institution has express authority through the UN Charter 
to review Security Council decisions/' The CESR points out that for 
many years the Security Council "devoted considerable resources 
and personnel to five newly-created commissions to monitor the 
implementation of the Council's resolutions in such areas as inspecting 
Iraqi weapons programs, establishing the border with Kuwait, and 
locating Kuwaiti prisoners of war/' and the work of these commissions 
"has frequently been supported by actual or threatened military 

Yet the Security Council has not created a commission or devoted 
funding to monitor the human rights impact of sanctions, instead 
occasionally taking note of reports by other UN bodies and 
independent research groups. 

This omission is particularly glaring in light of clear evidence of 
the enormous suffering in Iraq. The CESR notes that 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 

64 Iraq 

Shortly after the [1991] Gulf War, UN Secretary-General Javier Perez 
de Cuellar warned that: "the maintenance of food supply and 
consumption as well as the close monitoring of the nutritional 
and health status of the Iraqi population over the next few months 
are absolutely necessary to prevent full-scale famine and major 
human disasters developing in the country. " Z1 

Turning to the remaining dimension of our evaluation, the 
threshold for lifting sanctions was stated clearly in Resolution 661 
- Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. On the other hand, US/UK policy 
undermined the effectiveness of the sanctions by ruling out any 
negotiated solution to the crisis. Noam Chomsky lists some of 
Baghdad's attempts to negotiate a solution: an offer to withdraw on 
12 August 1990 (in return for Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied 
Territories, and Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon); a proposal 
transmitted via a former high-ranking US official to Brent Scowcroft, 
National Security Adviser to President Bush, on 23 August 1990, 
offering withdrawal in return for the lifting of sanctions, guaranteed 
access to the Gulf, and full control of the disputed Rumailah oil field 
on the Kuwaiti border; and an offer in late December 1990 to 
withdraw "if the United States pledges not to attack as soldiers are 
Xy pulled out, if foreign troops leave the region, and if there is an ~x3~ 

agreement on the Palestinian problem and on the banning of all 
weapons of mass destruction in the region/' Economic sanctions 
had succeeded in moving Iraq to what State Department officials 
described as a "serious pre-negotiation position. " Z2 So economic 
sanctions were successful in moving Iraq to offer a negotiated 
withdrawal, but this success was negated as all these offers were 
dismissed out of hand by the United States, with crucial British 
support. The US and UK were intent on military action. Percy 
Craddock, Foreign Policy Adviser to Prime Minister John Major during 
the Gulf War of 1991, has acknowledged that "our special nightmare 
was an Iraqi partial withdrawal, which would have flung the coalition 
into disarray and delayed the military campaign, perhaps indefi- 
nitely/'^ On his first meeting with President Bush Sr. as Prime 
Minister, John Major agreed with the US President that partial Iraqi 
withdrawal was "the most difficult option/' 24 The Iraqi Government 
had to be punished militarily, even if it had withdrawn to the border, 
retaining only the Kuwaiti segment of the Rumailah oil field. Iraqi 
compliance, in this view, was an obstacle to the desired policy 
outcome, rather than being the desired outcome itself. 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 65 


Iraq was finally forced out of Kuwait at the end of February 1991 . The 
sanctions imposed by UNSCR 661 continued to be enforced, however, 
until they were revised and superseded by UNSCR 687 of 3 April 1991 . 
Sarah Graham-Brown, a former Christian Aid worker, comments on 
the long list of requirements imposed by 687: "If Resolution 661 had 
been a coercive measure, the new post-war resolution could also be 
regarded as punitive/' zs The fundamental character of the sanctions 
regime remained unchanged: no human rights protection or 
monitoring was incorporated into the resolution; no targeting was 
introduced into the economic sanctions; all exports and all inter- 
national financial flows and all imports continued to be banned - with 
humanitarian exceptions for medical supplies, and now also for food. 
The main innovation of the resolution so far as the sanctions were 
concerned was the division of the economic sanctions on Iraq into 
import restrictions and export restrictions, and the setting of different 
thresholds for the lifting of the two kinds of sanctions. 

The sanctions on Iraq's civilian experts 

-Q- Paragraph 22 of the Resolution said that restrictions on Iraq's exports -Q- 

and the "financial transactions related thereto/' would be lifted once 
Iraq had complied with internationally supervised disarmament of 
its weapons of mass destruction. "International supervision" was to 
be conducted by the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), a new 
body established by the Resolution, and "largely a British idea/' 
according to British Foreign Policy Adviser Percy Craddock. Z6 The 
core demands (set out in Paragraphs 8 and 12) were that Iraq should 
"unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering 
harmless, under international supervision" of: 

(a) All chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents 
and all related subsystems and components and all research, 
development, support and manufacturing facilities; 

(b) All ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers 
and related major parts, and repair and production facilities; 
and (c) Nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapons-usable material or 
any subsystems or components or any research, development, 
support or manufacturing facilities related to the above. 


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66 Iraq 

Iraq was forced to accept not only a disarmament process (tinder 
international supervision), but also a long-term monitoring program 
(again tinder international supervision). 

Moscow and Paris strongly defended the significance of Paragraph 
22 - the Russian view was that: "As soon as the chairman of UNSCOM 
reports favorably, then paragraph 22 is engaged, allowing oil sales 
without limits. " Z7 As the years went by, the US and UK came to a 
different position. By 1994, the US and UK "believed sanctions should 
remain in place until 'all relevant resolutions' were complied with, 
choosing to ignore or play down the separate requirements of 
Paragraph 22/' Z8 In April 1994, Warren Christopher, US Secretary of 
State, wrote in the New York Times: "The US does not believe that 
Iraq's compliance with Paragraph 22 of Resolution 687 is enough to 
justify lifting the embargo. " 29 The effective deletion of this one 
"carrot/' or staged lifting of the sanctions, was to have fateful con- 
sequences in 1998. 

The sanctions on Iraq's civilian imports 

Paragraph 21 was extraordinarily vague by comparison: restrictions 
on exporting to Iraq would be lifted by the Security Council after 
considering "the policies and practices of the Government of Iraq, 
-^3~ including the implementation of all relevant resolutions of the Security ~^y~ 

Council/'^The punitive nature of the resolution is revealed both in 
the breadth and depth of the demands made throughout the 
resolution, but it is revealed particularly in the vagueness of this 
Paragraph's "policies and practices" threshold. The reference to "all 
relevant resolutions of the Security Council" was subsequently twisted 
by the British and US Governments. For example, in May 1994, US 
Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright's demands included among 
other things an end to Iraqi military action in the southern marshes 
- an issue that had been addressed in UNSCR 688. Dilip Hiro 
comments, "Clearly, the phrase 'all relevant resolutions' applied to 
the ones that had been passed on or before April 3, 1991 . But what 
Albright had done was to invoke also the Council resolutions passed 
after that date/' 31 

The Center for Economic and Social Rights suggested in 1997 that: 
"A fundamental problem in the application of sanctions on Iraq has 
been the lack of clearly- defined objectives and steps that Iraq could 
take to comply with the cease-fire resolutions/' The proper course 
would be for the Security Council to "detail the requirements for 
compliance, specifying the aspect of sanctions to be removed at each 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 67 

step of compliance/' 32 In the same year, from a very different position 
on the US political spectrum, mainstream political analysts Anthony 
Cordesman and Ahmed Hashim recommended: "Setting forth exact 
conditions for changes in the behavior of the current regime in return 
for a step by step lifting of sanctions and/or easing of sanctions/' 33 
In April 1991, months after UNSCR 661 was passed, and weeks after 
the expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait, months and weeks in which 
Britain and the United States contemplated and shaped policies for 
the post-war era, the decision was made consciously and explicitly 
to fashion the comprehensive economic sanction regime in precisely 
the opposite direction. 

The arms embargo 

For completeness, it may be worth pointing out that Paragraphs 24 
to 28 of the Resolution established a separate conventional arms 
embargo of Iraq, which would be lifted after "taking into account Iraq's 
compliance with the resolution and general progress towards the 
control of armaments in the region/' In August 1990, Paragraph 3(c) 
of UNSCR 661 had banned the sale or supply of "any commodities 
or products, including weapons or any other military equipment/' 
TT" Now in April 1991, the Security Council had established a distinct v7~ 

arms embargo of Iraq and had made clear that the comprehensive 
economic sanctions and the targeted arms embargo required different 
circumstances for their lifting. 


In early 2002, both US Secretary of State Colin Powell and British Prime 
Minister Tony Blair adopted the language of "regime change" in 
regard to Iraq. Tony Blair embraced the term during his visit to see 
President Bush Jr. in April 2002. 34 Colin Powell confirmed that 
sanctions were aimed at wider political change in Iraq, and not simply 
the securing of Iraqi disarmament: 

sanctions and the pressure of sanctions are part of a strategy of 
regime change [along with] support for the opposition, and 
reviewing additional options that might be available of a unilateral 
or multilateral nature. 33 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 

68 Iraq 

However, the phrase is misleading, as long-standing policy has 
been to aim at "leadership change" rather than a more thoroughgoing 
"regime change." 

Removing Saddam 

What was the real objective of Resolution 687? A glimpse of the truth 
was given when, at the end of April 1991, Iraq requested the unfreezing 
of $1 billion of Iraqi assets in foreign assets, to be spent on emergency 
food and medicine. Iraq offered to spend the released funds in the 
nations where they were currently frozen. 36 White House spokes- 
person Marlin Fitzwater demanded exact details of the goods to be 
purchased, and added: "If he [Saddam Hussein] were not in power, 
we would probably have a different view on all these issues." 37 British 
Ambassador to the UN Sir David Hannay commented during the 
discussions leading up to the passing of UNSCR 687: "My Government 
believes that it will in fact prove impossible for Iraq to rejoin the 
community of civilized nations while Saddam Hussein remains in 
power." 38 There was an ambiguity in the formula, used more than 
once in the years ahead, in that it could indicate simply a certain 
pessimism regarding the Iraqi leader's willingness to comply with 
UN Resolutions. The true British position was announced by Prime 
-^3~ Minister John Major: "Britain will veto any UN resolution designed ~^y~ 

to weaken the sanctions regime we have set in place for so long as 
Saddam Hussein remains in power." 39 

In the aftermath of 11 September, Major revealed that the Iraqi 
President had been personally targeted for assassination during the 
1991 war (contradicting direct denials by British ministers at the 
time): "If you mean in the [Gulf] war, did we try and kill Saddam 
Hussein by finding out where he was and dropping a bomb on him, 
of course we did, we were at war then." 40 

Major's Foreign Policy Adviser, Percy Craddock, was forthright 
about the purpose of the economic sanctions in his memoirs: 

The combined effect of these measures [economic sanctions, no- 
fly zones, and so on] was to keep Iraq in the strictest form of 
tutelage. As 1 saw it, our object was to demonstrate particularly to 
the Iraqi people, that while Saddam survived, their country would 
remain a pariah, impoverished and with incomplete sovereignty. 41 

Iraq and its people were to be taught a lesson, a very "strict" lesson, 
about international politics. On 12 May 1996 the same message was 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 69 

set out in stark terms in a CBS television program by the then US 
Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright. "More than 500,000 
Iraqi children are already dead as a direct result of the UN sanctions/' 
said CBS presenter Lesley Stahl, "Do you think the price is worth 
paying?" Albright responded, "It is a difficult question. But, yes, we 
think the price is worth it/' 42 

Preserving the regime 

While the objective of the economic sanctions was to depose, and 
presumably to cause the death of, Saddam Hussein, the US and Britain 
were both constrained by the desire to maintain the current power 
structure created by that same Saddam Hussein. Sarah Graham-Brown 
puts the matter well: the post-1991 "containment" strategy 

can be seen as an attempt to manage a dilemma for which successive 
US administrations have found no solution: a strong centralized 
Iraqi state threatens to become too powerful and pursue regional 
ambitions to the detriment of US allies; but an Iraq too weakened 
might fall prey to disintegrative tendencies and interference from 
US regional foes, especially Iran. 43 

-^3~ In July 1991 Thomas Friedman, Diplomatic Correspondent of the ~^y~ 

New York Times, explained US thinking: sanctions were to be 
maintained to induce the Iraqi military to overthrow Saddam Hussein. 
If another general took over, "then Washington would have the best 
of all worlds: an iron-fisted Iraqi junta without Saddam Hussein," a 
return to the days when Saddam's "iron fist. ..held Iraq together, much 
to the satisfaction of the American allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia." 
This prospect had been described months earlier by Iraqi opposition 
leader Ahmed Chalabi as "the worst of all possible worlds" for the 
Iraqi people. 44 

The results of over a decade of the "coup-by-sanctions" strategy are 
plain to see. "Many analysts of the Iraqi political and socio-economic 
scene, including many Iraqi government officials and intellectuals, 
felt that sanctions have only had a moderate effect in weakening 
Saddam Hussein's grip on power." The economic sanctions "focus 
the Iraqi people's attention on sheer survival," as life has become "a 
search for food." 43 Veteran reporter Robert Fisk reported on the impov- 
erishment of the Iraqi people in 1998. He encountered a "dispirited 
Western aid official" who told him: "They may not like Saddam, but 
these people have been reduced to penury. They live in shit. And 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 


70 Iraq 

when you have no money and no food, you don't worry about 
democracy or who your leaders are. All you care about is surviving/' 46 
In 1997, the two analysts warned that "the time may well have 
come to focus on the conduct of the Iraqi regime, rather than its 
leadership, and to use sanctions to alter Iraq's behavior rather than 
its political leadership/' 47 One option for policy-makers would be to 
reach "a clear decision as to whether sanctions are or are not tied to 
the survival of Saddam and his coterie, and making this clear to Iraq/' 
Cordesman and Hashim judged US, British, Kuwaiti and Saudi policy 
to be "a de facto attempt to remove Saddam/' but as a policy "it is 
all stick and no carrot/' "It does not make clear that Iraq would 
benefit if it does so, or what kind of new government would be 
acceptable/' 48 In the terms of our earlier discussion, the suggestion 
being made was to move from a punishment-centered sanctions 
policy towards a behavior-centered one. 


An emerging consensus 

An international consensus (excluding Britain and the US) has 
rh emerged regarding the economic sanctions on Iraq. A panel of human- ^h 

itarian experts appointed by the UN Security Council reported in 
March 1999: "Even if not all suffering in Iraq can be imputed to 
external factors, especially sanctions, the Iraqi people would not be 
undergoing such deprivations in the absence of the prolonged 
measures imposed by the Security Council and the effects of war/' 49 
In the Middle East, Arab opinion has hardened against the sanctions 
with each passing year, so that in March 2001, even Kuwait signaled 
its opposition to economic sanctions. Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh 
Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah announced that: "Kuwait has no objection 
to the launching of a call to lift the economic sanctions from Iraq/' 30 
A group of Western no n- governmental organizations (NGOs) wrote 
a letter to the Security Council in March 2000 warning that "human 
rights principles have been consistently subordinated to political 
considerations in the [UN Security] Council's approach to Iraq/' A 
"radical redesign of the sanctions regime" was required, said the 
NGOs, including Human Rights Watch and Save the Children (UK). 31 
French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine marked the tenth anniversary 
of the imposition of sanctions by observing that the economic 
sanctions on Iraq were 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 71 

cruel, ineffective and dangerous. ..cruel because they punish 
exclusively the Iraqi people and the weakest among 
them.. .ineffective because they don't touch the regime, which is 
not encouraged to co-operate... [and] dangerous because 
they.. .accentuate the disintegration of Iraqi society. 32 

The UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of 
Human Rights observed, soon after Vedrine's statement, that the 
economic sanctions on Iraq have "condemned an innocent people 
to hunger, disease, ignorance and even death/' 33 

Ike Economist had spoken out on behalf of a section of the inter- 
national business community a year earlier: 

Slowly, inexorably, a generation is being crushed in Iraq. Thousands 
are dying, thousands more are leading stunted lives, and storing up 
bitter hatreds for the future. If, year in, year out, the UN were sys- 
tematically killing Iraqi children by air strikes, western governments 
would declare it intolerable, no matter how noble the intention. 
They should find their existing policy just as unacceptable. 34 

A group of Anglican Bishops, reflecting widespread concern in their 
-^3~ churches, reported in May 1999, "we believe that the vast majority ~^y~ 

of the Iraqi civilian population is suffering grievous harm both 
physically and psychologically as a direct result of the sanctions 
policy imposed on the country by the UN Security Council/' The 
Bishops concluded that: "Sanctions in their present form are ethically 
untenable, because they are hitting the weakest and most vulnerable. 
As Christians we find this utterly opposed to the mind of Christ/' 33 
Julian Filochowski, Director of the Catholic aid agency CAFOD, 
reflecting long-standing Vatican policy, condemned the economic 
sanctions harshly as he helped to launch a report on sanctions by 
leading European Catholic aid agencies in February 2001: "The 
sanctions are humanly catastrophic, morally indefensible and 
politically ineffective. They are a failed policy and must be changed/' 36 
As these statements indicate, the emerging international consensus 
has had its counterpart in Britain also. John Nichol, a former RAF pilot 
shot down over Iraq and held by the Iraqis in 1991, has observed that 
"sanctions are having little effect on the regime; the only people 
suffering are the poorest. ...It is time they were lifted. Whatever the 
options are, they have to be better than the current stalemate/' 37 
The turning of public opinion has even affected party politics in 


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72 Iraq 

Britain, altering the position of the Liberal Democrat Party. Menzies 
Campbell, Foreign Affairs spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, told 
his party conference in September 2000: "It should now become the 
policy of the British Government that sanctions other than those 
directly relevant to military or military related equipment should be 
lifted/' 58 

The House of Commons Select Committee on International Affairs, 
in the report "The Future of Sanctions/' already referred to, concluded 
that, "although sanctions may well represent a low-cost alternative 
to war in financial terms, they are all too often as damaging - in 
humanitarian and developmental terms - as armed conflict/' The 
Select Committee stated that it was "particularly concerned" at the 
impact of "comprehensive economic sanctions" and "regional 
sanctions regimes." "However carefully exemptions are planned," 
said the parliamentarians, "the fact is that comprehensive economic 
sanctions only further concentrate power in the hands of the ruling 
elite. ..The UN will lose credibility if it advocates the rights of the 
poor whilst at the same time causing, if only indirectly, their further 
impoverishment." The committee observed: "We find it difficult to 
believe that there will be a case in the future where the UN would 
rf\ be justified in imposing comprehensive economic sanctions on a rh 

v country." Referring specifically to Iraq, the MPs proposed in February v 

2000 what amounts to the "radical redesign" called for by Save the 
Children and the other NGOs in their letter to the UN Security Council 
a month later: 

Whatever the wisdom of the original imposition of sanctions, 
careful thought must now be given as to how to move from the 
current impasse without giving succour to Saddam Hussein and 
his friends. Any move away from comprehensive sanctions should 
go hand in hand with measures designed to target the real culprits, 
not the poor of Iraq but their leadership. Possibilities include a 
concerted attempt to target and either freeze or sequester the assets 
of Saddam Hussein and those connected to him, and the indictment 
of Saddam Hussein and his close associates as war criminals." 39 

Before war and sanctions 

Kana Makiya, an Iraqi exile, one of the harshest critics of the Iraqi 
regime, penned the monumental Republic of Fear as a savage attack 
on the Ba'athist system. Nevertheless, even Makiya acknowledges 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 73 

that the Iraqi Government made a substantial investment in social 
welfare over the decades: 

Aregime of terror actually presided over an across-the-board increase 
in the standard of living in Iraq, and it significantly improved the 
lot of the most destitute layers, furthering the leveling of income 
differentials that began after 1958. The changes are impressive: 
the prices of most basic necessities were stabilized by state subsidy; 
the minimum daily wage was greatly increased over the rate of 
inflation, which was kept low; new labor laws provided complete 
job security; the state became an employer of last resort for all 
graduates; free education and health care was provided; and per 
capita national income increased from 195 ID [Iraqi Dinar] in 1970 
to 7,564 ID in 1979. 60 

Stephen Glain, US author of a forthcoming study of the Arab middle 
class, provides a regional perspective in a post-1 1 September edition 
of Newsweek magazine: 

Iraq's place on George W. Bush's "axis of evil" obscures the fact 
that Saddam developed his nation's economy while other Arab 
-^3~ leaders were plundering theirs. Viewed from the slums of south ~^y~ 

Beirut, Jordan's desert villages, the dilapidated hamlets of the Upper 
Nile, Iraq's economic debility is a more subversive threat to regional 
stability than its hidden weapons. ..Saddam was largely responsible 
for Iraq's development even before he became president. As vice 
president in the 1970s, he led a modernization drive in the name 
of Baath socialism. While other Arab states traded their petrol dollars 
for palaces, Iraq built roads, schools and factories, and sent engineers 
and doctors to study in the United States and Europe. Saddam 
ordered sweeping land reform, a health-care system and minimum- 
wage laws. He opened male-dominated professions to women. Iraqi 
Airways boasted some of the world's best-trained pilots and 
engineers. Iraq became the Arab world's first modern economy. 61 

Glain points out that Iraq's consumption of imported goods and 
services from its neighbors was a motor of economic growth for 
the region: "Until the late 1980s, it was Iraq's voracious middle 
class that buoyed the economies of Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, 
Syria, Lebanon and even Kuwait/' "Iraq was the only major Arab 
economy diversified enough to weather the collapse of oil prices in 


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74 Iraq 

the mid-1980s, providing a lift to the region/' according to Glain, 
while the 1991 Gulf War "all but silenced the beating heart of Arab 
capitalism/' Between 1990 and 1999 the aggregate per capita income 
of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt averaged 
less than 2 percent growth against a population growth of about 4 
percent. Glain warns that: "The wider war on terror cannot be won 
without an Arab middle class, which cannot be rebuilt with Iraq 
choked by sanctions/' 62 

Returning to the pre-war situation in Iraq itself, Cordesman and 
Hashim summarize the situation: "Before the war, Iraq had achieved 
a high level of economic and social development which had placed 
it in the World Bank category of upper middle income countries like 
Greece, Venezuela, and Czechoslovakia/' The per capita calorie intake 
of Iraqis in the late 1980s was "just under 3,000 per day - above 
average for an upper middle income country/' 63 The two analysts 
observe that: "Iraq's health system was one of the best in the Third 
World/' According to the World Health Organization, prior to 1991 
free state health care reached 96 percent of the urban population 
and 78 percent of rural residents. 64 By 1990, nearly all urban dwellers 
and 72 percent of rural residents had access to clean water. 63 During 
the 1985-89 period, in other words, in the midst of the Iran-Iraq 
-^3~ war > the proportion of fully immunized one-year-olds increased from ~^y~ 

15 to 68 percent. 66 According to the United Nations Educational, 
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the literacy rate in 
Iraq increased from an estimated 52 percent of the adult population 
in 1977 to 80 percent in 1987, as the result of a "massive literacy 
campaign conducted during the late seventies and early eighties". The 
Government of Iraq was awarded an international trophy for this 
remarkable progress in eradicating illiteracy. 67 

The steady investment in social welfare had measurable impacts 
on life expectancy and child survival rates. Between 1960 and 1990 
life expectancy climbed from 49 to 67 years, a level comparable to 
many Latin American countries, including Brazil and Mexico. 68 
There were also dramatic declines in infant and child mortality 
(deaths of children under one year of age, and under five years of 
age) during the same period. According to figures compiled by the 
United Nations Children's Eund (UN1CEE), between 1960 and 1990 
infant mortality in Iraq dropped steadily from 117 deaths per 1000 
live births to 40 deaths per 1000 live births, while child mortality 
dropped from 171 deaths per 1000 live births to 50 deaths per 1000 
live births (see table). 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 75 

Table 3. 1 Under-5 and infant mortality rates (USMR and IMR) in Iraq, 


1960 171 117 

1970 127 90 

1980 83 63 

1990 50 40 

199S 117 98 

1998 125 103 

Mortality rate: deaths per 1OO0 live births. UN1CEF, August 1999. fi? 

A group of economists from the London School of Economics 
(LSE), Peter Boone, Haris Gazdar, and Athar Hussain, pointed out in 
1997 that the Iraqi commitment to social welfare "is not new-found/' 
and "must be viewed in the historical context of welfarist interven- 
tions by successive governments in Iraq": 

These interventions, which include action by the government on 

a variety of social and welfare issues, such as education (particularly 

the education of girls), public health care, development of infra- 

-\y- structure and indeed radical land reforms, have been consistent -Q- 

and substantial features of public policy at least since the late 1950s. 70 

After war and sanctions 

There have been dramatic effects on well-being in most if not all 
parts of Iraq as a result of the war of 1991, the post-war uprising, and 
the ongoing sanctions. 

Child mortality after war and sanctions 

One measure is provided by death rates among children under five 
and infants under one year of age. A 1999 UNICEE survey revealed 
that in the south and center of Iraq - home to 85 percent of the 
country's population - under -five mortality more than doubled from 
56 deaths per 1000 live births (1984-9) to 131 deaths per 1000 live 
births (1994-9). Likewise infant mortality - defined as the death of 
children in their first year- increased from 47 to 108 deaths per 1000 
live births within the same time frame. UNICEE Executive Director 
Carol Bellamy noted that, if the substantial reduction in child 
mortality throughout Iraq during the 1980s had continued through 
the 1990s, there would have been half a million fewer deaths of 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 


76 Iraq 

children tinder five in the country as a whole during the eight-year 
period 1991 to 1998. 71 500,000 children died who would otherwise 
have lived. UN1CEF were careful not to attribute all these deaths to 
economic sanctions, but emphasized the judgment of the Security 
Council's own Humanitarian Panel investigation of the situation in 
Iraq: "Even if not all suffering in Iraq can be imputed to external 
factors, especially sanctions, the Iraqi people would not be undergoing 
such deprivations in the absence of the prolonged measures imposed 
by the Security Council and the effects of war/' 72 

Child malnutrition after war and sanctions 

The World Health Organization reports that before 1990, "calorie 
availability was 120 percent of actual requirement, nutritional defi- 
ciencies were at very low levels, while clinical disorders due to excessive 
and unbalanced consumption of foods were increasingly 
encountered/' 73 Before turning to the post-war situation, we should 
perhaps distinguish between two main forms of child malnutrition. 
Acute malnutrition, also known as "wasting/' is more life-threatening 
than chronic malnutrition or "stunting/' but it is also more easily 
remedied. According to Linda S. Adair, Ph.D., Associate Professor of 
Nutrition at the University of North Carolina: 

-©- -e- 

High levels of stunting among children suggest that there will also 
be long-term deficits in mental and physical development that 
can leave children ill-prepared to take maximum advantage of 
learning opportunities in school. This can also have consequences 
for children's success later in life. 74 

Immediately after the Gulf War, a number of independent nutrition 
surveys were carried out in Iraq, the most representative sample being 
taken by the national International Study Team, which found 12 
percent of children under five experiencing chronic malnutrition. 73 
UN1CEF uses a lower estimate of 9.2 percent for children in 
south/central Iraq in 1991 . In May 1997 the children's agency reported 
that the rate of malnutrition had risen to 25 percent, "or some 750,000 
children/' 76 In November 1997, UN1CEF announced that the rate of 
chronic malnutrition among children under five had risen to 32 
percent -"some 960,000 children" - a rise of 72 percent since 1991. 
Almost one quarter of children under five were underweight - twice 
as high as the levels found in neighboring Jordan or Turkey. "It is clear 
that children are bearing the brunt of the current economic hardship/' 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 


British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 77 

said Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF Representative in Iraq. "They must 
be protected from the impact of sanctions. Otherwise, they will 
continue to suffer, and that we cannot accept/' 77 Almost two years 
into the UN oil-for-food program, almost a million young children 
in south/central Iraq were at risk of lifelong deficits in mental and 
physical development. UNICEF observed in 2000 that child malnu- 
trition continued to be "entrenched" in south/central Iraq. 

An EAO/WEP Nutrition Assessment mission in 2000 found the 
prevalence of acute malnutrition (low weight-for-height) in children 
under five years of age to be over 10 percent in three south/center 
governorates surveyed. This is slightly better than the figure of 12 
percent obtained by the mission in 1 995 in the same governorates, 
but remains much higher than the 1991 level of 3 percent. 78 

The September 2000 Nutrition Assessment mission by the UN Eood 
and Agriculture Organization and the UN World Eood Program found 
that "since the six-monthly surveys began in 1997 it appears that there 
has been little further improvement [in child malnutrition rates] 
except for chronic malnutrition which decreased from 27 percent to 
21 percent." Despite this reduction: "Still, at least about 800,000 
-^3~ children under the age of five are chronically malnourished." 79 ~^y~ 

Chronic malnutrition can lead to lifelong physical and mental 
stunting. Anupama Rao Singh, UNICEE's director in Baghdad and a 
veteran of African famine work, points out that chronic malnutri- 
tion is "extremely difficult to reverse, if not irreversible." 80 

Ike wide impact 

While international concern has focused on the persistence of high 
levels of child malnutrition and high levels of excess child mortality 
in Iraq, there are other grave consequences of the sanctions. "Iraq's 
population has been devastated socially, economically, and psycho- 
logically." Cordesman and Hashim observe that there has been a 
"dramatic rise in corruption and bribery in a government which 
prided itself on being one of the least corrupt in the region." "Social 
ills such as theft, begging, prostitution and rural thievery that were 
rare or 'efficiently' controlled in this once well-policed authoritarian 
state have become widespread." The two analysts add that the 
sanctions "game" has reduced Iraq to "an economic and social 'basket 
case' and may limit its economic development for several decades to 
US epidemiologist Richard Garfield notes in particular the 


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78 Iraq 

decline in adult literacy from 80 percent to 58 percent, suggesting 
that this is "perhaps at least as condemning a statement about human- 
itarian conditions in Iraq as data on mortality/' a dramatic 
deterioration in the "long-term assets" of Iraqi society. 82 

A human rights assessment 

Earlier we discussed the procedural duties of the Security Council 
with regard to protecting human rights. The Center for Economic and 
Social Rights has also focused attention on the "substantive duties" 
of the UN's highest body; to ensure that its activities do not result 
in violations of human rights principles, "particularly among 
vulnerable populations such as children and women, which enjoy 
special protection under international law." "The foreseeable and 
avoidable deaths of hundreds of thousands of children clearly 
implicate a number of fundamental human rights," the CESR notes. 
Most important among them is the right to life, considered by the 
UN Human Rights Committee to be "the supreme right from which 
no derogation is permitted even in time of public emergency." The 
New York-based NGO points out that the comprehensive economic 
sanctions have also contributed to violations of the rights to health 
and to an adequate standard of living, guaranteed by the Universal 
-^3~ Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on ~^y~ 

Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and other international treaties: 
"it is significant that children have suffered disproportionately from 
sanctions." Under human rights law, children are considered uniquely 
vulnerable and are granted special protection. More countries have 
ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child than any other 
human rights treaty in history, including all permanent members of 
the Security Council. The Convention specifically recognizes that 
"every child has the inherent right to life." It calls on all states "to 
ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development 
of the child" and "to take appropriate measures to diminish infant 
and child mortality." The CESR comments: 

It is hard to think of a more grave breach of child rights in modern 
history than the suffering and death of hundreds of thousands of 
children under the age of five caused by a political dispute between 
"their" government and the international community. 83 

The CESR also assesses the economic sanctions against humani- 
tarian law, the laws of war. Two basic principles of the laws of war 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 79 

are "distinction" - the imperative to distinguish between combatants 
and civilians, and to attack only military targets - and "proportion- 
ality/' The principle of proportionality is designed to ensure that 
attacks against military targets do not cause excessive civilian damage. 
In relation to the issue of targeting, the CESR observes that: "Imposing 
comprehensive sanctions that cause total economic collapse and the 
deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians appears on its face to 
violate the principle of distinction/' The Center also refers to an 
Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention which explicitly 
outlaws the use of starvation as a method of warfare: "in no event 
shall actions. taken which may be expected to leave the civilian 
population with such inadequate food or water as to cause its 
starvation/' It is hard to see how the comprehensive economic 
sanctions can be said to be aimed at the regime, causing collateral 
damage to civilians. It appears much more plausible that the 
economic sanctions are targeted at the entire population as a means 
to influence the regime - "a clear violation" of international law, the 
CESR comments. 

If one takes the position that the economic sanctions are directed 
against the regime rather than against the people, the Security Council 
must still demonstrate that there has not been a disproportionate 
Xy impact on civilians. The Geneva Conventions define proportional- ~x3~ 

ity as prohibiting any "attack which may be expected to cause 
incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian 
objects. ..which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and 
direct military advantage anticipated/' The CESR refers to "the author- 
itative legal commentary on the laws of war" for some guidelines: 

A remote [military] advantage to be gained at some unknown time 
in the future would not be a proper consideration to weigh against 
civilian loss.. .The advantage concerned should be substantial and 
relatively close. ..There can be no question of creating conditions 
conducive to surrender by means of attacks which incidentally 
harm the civilian population. 84 

It is difficult to see when, in the period 1991-2002, there has been 
the prospect of a "substantial and relatively close" advantage to the 
international community from the economic sanctions, compared 
to the massive loss of life that sanctions have caused, and the general 
demoralization, "lobotomization" and impoverishment of an entire 
nation as a result of the economic sanctions. The CESR points out 


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80 Iraq 

that it is difficult to know how much progress on Iraqi disarmament 
is attributable to sanctions: "Iraq has often revealed valuable 
information" regarding its weapons of mass destruction programs 
"in response to high-level defections or threatened military strikes/' 85 
In brief, a careful examination of the law demonstrates that the 
sanctions regime has violated both human rights law and the human- 
itarian laws of war - on a considerable scale. Hence the judgment of 
Marc Bossuyt, Belgian law professor, in a report for the UN Sub- 
commission on Human Rights, that the continuation of economic 
sanctions on Iraq, despite knowledge of their toll in human lives, was 
"unequivocally illegal/' 86 


One can discuss the causes of what UNICEE calls the "humanitarian 
emergency" in two ways: a chronological examination of the sequence 
of events that created the crisis, or a logical analysis of the obstacles 
that must be overcome. We will follow both procedures. 

Macroeconomic shock I: the fiscal crisis (before oil-for-food) 

The economic sanctions imposed in August 1990 were extraordinar- 
-^3~ ily successful in cutting off all trade with Iraq. Shortly before the ~^y~ 

1991 war the CIA estimated that sanctions had been 97 percent 
effective in stopping Iraqi exports. 87 Boone, Gazdar and Hussain 
observe that the sanctions on Iraq "stand out in their scope and effec- 
tiveness/' compared to multilateral sanctions against other states. 
Iraq was heavily dependent on oil revenues, so that at the market 
exchange rate, oil exports provided 75 percent of national income: 
"These oil revenues formed the basis for Iraq's economic structure 
and policies/' comment Boone, Gazdar and Hussain. They point out 
that "during the 1970s and early 1980s the [Iraqi] government built 
up state industry and agriculture by introducing sizeable direct and 
indirect subsidies, but since it grew with the aid of subsidies and 
inexpensive foreign exchange, it was, in effect, highly dependent on 
oil revenues/' There was also considerable investment in education, 
health and welfare, including subsidizing the cost of a range of food 
items. "In short, the state was a key player in all areas of the economy: 
production, employment, private consumption and provisioning of 
public goods/' The interdiction of oil exports cut off oil revenues, and 
therefore government revenues and government spending collapsed, 
creating a fiscal crisis. The economy was severely damaged and there 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 81 

was, quite predictably, a direct and serious impact on the civilian 
population - "One of the most important results of sanctions is that 
the government has sharply curtailed producer and some consumer 
subsidies/' The government was starved of revenues (there were, and 
are, few if any taxes in Iraq) and therefore suffered what is known as 
a "fiscal crisis/' Baghdad responded by allowing public sector salaries 
to lag behind inflation, and by printing money to pay these salaries, 
creating hyperinflation. The result was that by 1996, public sector 
workers were earning $3-$5 per month, in contrast to their pre- 
sanctions salaries of $150-200 per month. 88 

In other words, there was a direct link between the economic 
sanctions, the fiscal crisis, economic deflation, and mass poverty. At 
the macroeconomic level, sanctions collapsed government revenues, 
thereby badly damaging the provision of public services. At the micro- 
economic or household level, families could barely earn enough to 
survive and the prices of necessities were no longer subsidized in the 
way that they had been. 

Macroeconomic shock II: the foreign exchange crisis 

The LSE analysts argued in 1997 that: "The most important impact 
A\ of the decline in oil revenues was a severe tightening of the available A\ 

v funds for imports/' 89 Prior to 1990 Iraq imported over 75 percent of v 

the calories consumed in the country, at a cost of over $2 billion in 
1989. 90 "As with food, most of Iraq's industrial base was heavily 
dependent on the import of sophisticated machinery, equipment, 
spare parts, and raw materials procured abroad/' 91 Agriculture 
depended on imported seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, spare parts for 
irrigation systems, and harvesting and processing equipment. 92 With 
a decline in the availability of foreign exchange to buy imported 
goods, they became more expensive in relation to domestic goods, 
and in particular in relation to labor. Imported goods became more 
and more difficult for ordinary people to purchase. The LSE economists 
comment, "we believe the greatest impact of sanctions has come 
through the oil export restrictions - with reduced purchasing power, 
people are simply unable to buy the goods they used to purchase/' 93 
Iraqi companies reduced production (by over 70 percent in many 
cases), and therefore employment, not because there was a corre- 
sponding shortage of inputs (spare parts, raw materials and so on), 
but because there were "limits on market demand associated with 
reduced incomes/' 94 The external market was denied by sanctions, 


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82 Iraq 

and the internal market was radically shrunk as a result of sanctions- 
induced impoverishment. 

One key to the crisis; family purchasing power 

The crucial factor here is "purchasing power". Household purchasing 
power is of critical significance to the revival of the Iraqi economy; 
it is also critical to the capacity of families to provide for their needs. 
Economists Jean Dreze and Haris Gazdar warn against the focus on 
"aggregate commodity supplies": 

The "effects of sanctions" have often been analyzed in terms of what 
these sanctions do to aggregate commodity supplies - how far food 
supplies, or medical supplies, or the supply of cement, fall short 
of ordinary levels. What really matters, however, is how the 
sanctions affect the ability of households (or enterprises, in the case 
of raw materials and intermediate inputs) to acquire the 
commodities in question. "Effective sanctions" in that sense can 
be quite different from what sanctions look like on the basis of 
sup ply- centered analysis. 93 

The food supply in a country might be cut in half by sanctions, 
-^3~ but ^ the average nutritional value of those supplies rose dramati- ~^y~ 

cally, and if the food was shared much more equitably than before 
sanctions, the human impact of sanctions might actually be positive 
(rather in the way that food rationing is said to have produced 
healthier children in Britain during the World War 11). The key factor 
is the capacity of families (or businesses) to acquire the goods and 
services they need. In Iraq, family purchasing power is affected by 
state subsidies for necessities, employment (in both the public and 
private sectors), government wages and salaries, and the value of the 
Iraqi dinar - the currency in which wages are paid. 

After the passing of UNSCR 687 in early 1991, Dreze and Gazdar 
commented, "now that the embargo on food imports has been lifted, 
it is tempting to assume that there is no need to worry about the food 
situation in Iraq." While food was "readily available" from neighboring 
countries, and in that sense "food supply" was no longer a problem, 
"nutritional deprivation continues to remain endemic, and may even 
be increasing": 

Effective sanctions on food remain, due to the crippling effects of 
general sanctions on economic activity and employment, despite 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 83 

the formal exemption spelt out in Resolution 687 and the ready 
availability of food from neighboring countries. 96 

This is the key to understanding the persistence of child malnu- 
trition and mass suffering even after the influx of humanitarian goods 
under oil-for-food. "Real earnings fell by around 90 percent in the 
first year of the sanctions, and then fell by around 40 percent more 
between 1991 and 1996. " 97 The average Iraqi income in 1993 was 
400 Iraqi dinars; "whereas ID 1000 was needed to feed a family 
adequately/' As a result of the depreciation of the Iraqi dinar, "its 
buying power was 100 times less than in mid-August [1990], whereas 
salaries had only doubled/' 98 The UN World Food Program notes 
that the amount of food consumed by the Iraqi family with an average 
income in 1993 was only 31.3 percent of what that family had 
consumed in 1988; by 1993 an average of 72 percent of household 
incomes were used for the purchase of food; and the Family Purchase 
Power Indicator (FPPI) for Iraq declined steadily from 3.62 in 1990 
to 0.15 in 1993, and then to 0.06 in 1995. The FPPI is the ratio 
between the lowest monthly income and the total cost of a basic 
food basket for a six-member family, including an infant. The post- 
1990 FPPI values are well below the 1 .25 level which FAO considers 
-^3~ as signal of household nutritional deficiency; this level means that ~^y~ 

least 80 percent of a family's income is spent on food." Millions of 
breadwinners were either denied employment altogether, or were 
paid starvation real wages as a direct result of the economic sanctions, 
and millions of families were therefore unable to provide for their 
younger and more vulnerable members. 

Macroeconomic shock III: the war and the uprisings 

The Arab Monetary Fund estimated the value of destroyed infrastruc- 
ture and economic assets during the 1 991 war at $232 billion. 100 (By 
contrast, the decade-long Iran-Iraq war caused only $67 billion worth 
of economic damage. 101 ) For over five years Iraq was completely 
prevented from exporting oil, and was thus denied tens of billions 
of dollars of revenues, sharply deflating the economy, and preventing 

Infrastructure damage: the water sector 

In the water sector, Hoskins points out that "there were some early 
postwar gains" as Iraq drew on its prewar stockpile, and cannibalized 
damaged facilities. "Yet, the condition of the water sector began to 


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84 Iraq 

deteriorate again after the initial restoration effort/' as Iraq was 
prevented by sanctions from acquiring the equipment and the 
chlorine supplies needed to purify water. Poor water quality has 
caused many deaths through the spread of diarrheal disease, including 
cholera, typhoid, and dysentery. 102 The UN Development Program 
noted in March 1999 that: "The quality of [drinking] water deterio- 
rated substantially from an average 5 percent of water samples 
contaminated in 1989 to 35 percent in 1997." 103 

The effect of sanctions on the supply of clean drinking water was 
not simply in terms of water purification and pumping equipment 
and supplies of chlorine; there was also the underlying problem of 
electricity. For an anodyne account, we may turn to a sequence of 
UN reports. In November 2000, Kofi Annan warned in his regular 
report on the progress of oil-for-food that "treated water" was "at 
risk from the incidence of cross-contamination in the distribution 
network." 104 In September 2001 the UN Secretary-General noted 
that, while the incidence of most communicable diseases seemed to 
be declining, amoebic dysentery and typhoid showed "slight 
increases". He commented: "The high incidence of water-borne 
diseases can be largely attributed to the poor state of water and 
W sanitation infrastructures in the country." While the overall efficiency v7~ 

of water treatment plants had increased somewhat because of the 
arrival and installation of equipment and spare parts bought through 
the oil-for-food program, "the lack of continuous power supply 
lessened this benefit, reducing actual performance efficiency of water 
treatment plants by 10 percent." 103 

For a vivid appreciation of the interconnection between the 
electricity sector and clean drinking water, Robert Fisk, reporter for 
the (London) Independent, interviewed Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF 
Representative in Baghdad. He explained to Fisk in early 1998, "it's 
not just the water-treatment plants that need repairing in Iraq but 
the pipes as well. Then you have the lack of electricity that contributes 
to the deterioration in health." Fisk noted: 

I already understood the revolting mechanics of electrical power 
and water; a UN hygiene official had explained it to me, equally 
coldly, 24 hours earlier: when electricity is cut - which it is every 
three hours, for example, in Basra - the pumps stop and the pressure 
in the leaking water pipes falls. Into the vacuum is sucked sewage 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 85 

which runs out of the taps. Even the original source of the water 
is now contaminated in Iraq. 106 

The electrical power system was in disrepair because it was deliber- 
ately targeted during Operation Desert Storm. Dr. Hoskins observes 
that: "Eighteen of Iraq's twenty power-generating plants were rendered 
inoperable [during the 1991 war], reducing [immediate] postwar 
electricity to just 4 percent of prewar levels/' Eood storage facilities, 
industrial complexes, oil refineries, sewage pumping stations, telecom- 
munications facilities, roads, railroads, and dozens of bridges were 
destroyed during the war. Hoskins comments: "It took Iraq many 
decades, vast amounts of foreign currency, and considerable foreign 
expertise to build the estimated $232 billion worth of assets destroyed 
in the forty-three-day bombing campaign/' 107 Significantly, this 
damage was deliberate. "Gen. Buster Glosson, responsible for 
compiling the target lists [for the US-led bombardment] commented 
that after the war the US and its allies expected to rebuild the damaged 
infrastructure/' according to an interview with the Chicago Tribune. , 108 
General Glosson's colleague, Colonel John Warden, explained after 
the war that, "Saddam Hussein cannot restore his own electricity. He 
needs help. If there are political objectives that the UN Coalition 
-^3~ nas > i1: can sa Y> 'Saddam, when you agree to do these things, we will ~^y~ 

allow people to come in and fix your electricity.'" 109 

Contaminated drinking water is a major contributor to the 
increased level of child deaths and the increased level of child mal- 
nutrition in Iraq. 

Contaminated water supplies and poor sanitation have created 
health conditions enabling diarrhea to emerge as the leading child 
killer during the post-war period. During both 1991 and 1992, 
mortality due to diarrhea was estimated at more than three times 
the 1990 levels. 110 

UNICEE observed in 2000 that the "case fatality rate" due to 
diarrheal diseases in children under five years "has remained high at 
2.4 percent": "Diarrhea leading to death from dehydration, and acute 
respiratory infections together account for 70 percent of child 
mortality/' 111 This is due in large part to the deliberate destruction 
of Iraq's electricity system in the 1991 war, and the deliberate 
prevention of reconstruction by comprehensive economic sanctions 
in the years thereafter. 


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86 Iraq 

War and sanctions; the allocation of responsibility 

Cordesman and Hashim comment: "There is no question that the 
war and the rebellions caused extensive damage"; they observe that 
it may be "methodologically impossible" to distinguish the cost of 
these "calamities" from the effects of sanctions. 112 While acknowl- 
edging that it is "extremely difficult" to separate the effects of sanctions 
from those of the 43-day bombing campaign and subsequent ground 
war (and from the uprising that followed the ground war), Eric Hoskins 
suggests that, with the passage of time "the effects of sanctions have 
increased and have come to outweigh the lingering effects of the 
war." 113 In particular: "A nonsanctioned country could reasonably 
be expected to achieve at least partial recovery from wartime damage 
within two to three years of the end of a conflict", but sanctions 
prevented Iraq from acquiring the revenues necessary for reconstruc- 
tion. 114 The early, temporary, signs of recovery in the water sector, 
and the restoration of the power generating system (though at a 
much reduced level), are indications of the kinds of improvements 
that might have been possible in the absence of economic sanctions, 
despite the destruction caused by the war. In fact, Cordesman and 
Hashim acknowledge that while "sanctions are scarcely the only 
rh problem that the Iraqi economy has faced since 1990," "they are the (T\ 

primary cause of its present crisis": the economic sanctions "have done 
much more damage to Iraq than the Gulf War." 113 


If we recast the discussion in terms of the requirements for recovery, 
and the obstacles which must be overcome if the humanitarian 
emergency is to be resolved, there seem to be at least six areas to be 
addressed. From the foregoing discussion it is clear that two critical 
domains are, on the one hand, the reconstruction of essential civilian 
infrastructure, such as water purification and pumping stations, 
sewage and sanitation facilities, health centers and hospitals, power 
stations and electricity distribution networks, and so on; and, on the 
other hand, the restoration of family purchasing power, through the 
generation of employment, the appreciation of the Iraqi dinar, and 
the general re-inflation of the Iraqi economy. 

UNSCR1409, passed in May 2002, introduced a set of amendments 
to the "oil-for-food" deal which were popularly referred to as "smart 
sanctions." We will address the resolution below in more detail, but 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 87 

it is worth noting that as the first drafts of the Resolution were being 
circulated, The Economist, among others, commented, 

although the country would be able to import more, it would still 
be denied the free movement of labor and capital that it desperately 
needs if it is at last to start picking itself up. ..Iraq needs massive 
investment to rebuild its industry, its power grids and its schools, 
and needs cash in hand to pay its engineers, doctors and teachers. 
None of this looks likely to happen under smart sanctions. 116 

The Financial Times observed that "the US plan [i.e. "smart 
sanctions"] will not revive Iraq's devastated economy while control 
over Iraq's oil revenues remains in the hands of the UN, and foreign 
investment and credits are still prohibited/' 117 Ike Economist again: 

To recover from its 11 years under the sanctions battering-ram - 
which has crushed the country's industrial and agricultural infra- 
structure - Iraq needs the freedom, and overseas investment, of a 
huge reconstruction effort. ..the British proposal of 'smart sanctions' 
offers an aspirin where surgery is called for. 118 

-^3~ Here, foreign investment and foreign loans are identified as critical ~^y~ 

to the reconstruction effort, and direct access to foreign exchange is 
seen as vital to restoring the real pay levels of public servants. 

In general, as the UN Security Council's own Humanitarian Panel 
observed in March 1999, "the humanitarian situation in Iraq will 
continue to be a dire one in the absence of a sustained revival of the 
Iraqi economy/' 119 A Western aid agency official in Iraq said of the 
so-called "smart sanctions" package: "It won't improve life for the 
ordinary Iraqi. It will be a dole, a handout to Iraq as a whole. It will 
do nothing to tackle the real issue - how to stimulate the internal 
economy and allow civil society to come back/' 1Z0 The essential 
ingredients of a serious recovery package should include free access 
to foreign investment, foreign loans, foreign exchange, and foreign 
markets - to allow Iraqi businesses to earn their way in the world. 

A moratorium on debt and compensation 

Cordesman and Hashim state unequivocally, "one thing is clear, any 
strategy for dealing with Iraq must deal with debt and reparations as 
well as sanctions/' Iraq's debt burden in mid-1990 was an estimated 
$80 billion. With unpaid interest, this will have swollen to even 


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88 Iraq 

greater dimensions. The two Center for Strategic and International 
Studies analysts quote estimates of the total cost of Iraq's debt, recon- 
struction and reparations burden to 2000 amounting to $141 billion. 
Clearly, "unless debt and reparations are reduced or forgiven, they 
will be a major hindrance - if not a crippling burden - on Iraq's ability 
to rebuild its economy regardless of how and when sanctions are 
lifted/' For Cordesman and Hashim, "Iraq's rich oil resources should 
be used to rebuild and rehabilitate the country and not to pay punitive 
damages to be shouldered by the next generation/' They warn of the 
dangers of another Versailles. 


For many years, the British and US governments were able to absolve 
themselves of responsibility for the mounting human toll resulting 
from the economic sanctions by referring to the refusal of an early 
form of the oil-for-food deal by the Iraqi Government in 1991. 
Paragraph 23 of UNSCR 687, passed in April 1991, opened up the 
possibility of allowing Iraqi oil exports "when required to assure 
adequate financial resources on the part of Iraq to carry out the 
activities under paragraph 20 above/' Paragraph 20 dealt with the 
-^3~ purchase of food, "medicines", "health supplies/' It also referred to ~^y~ 

the possibility of Iraq being permitted to purchase other materials 
and supplies for "essential civilian needs" identified in "the report 
of the Secretary-General dated 20 March 1991/' and in "any further 
findings of humanitarian need by the [Sanctions] Committee/' To 
my knowledge, the Sanctions Committee has never made any 
"findings of humanitarian need" in Iraq. 

The Ahtisaari report 

The "report of the Secretary -General dated 20 March 1991" was a 
report on conditions in Iraq compiled by UN Under-Secretary-General, 
Martti Ahtisaari, after a visit to the country from 10 to 17 March 
1991. This report contained the famous phrase, "nothing that we 
had seen or read had quite prepared us for the particular form of 
devastation which has now befallen the country": 

The recent conflict has wrought near-apocalyptic results upon the 
economic mechanized society. Now, most means of modern life 
support have been destroyed or rendered tenuous. Iraq has, for 
some time to come, been relegated to a p re-industrial age, but with 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 89 

all the disabilities of post-industrial dependency on an intensive 
use of energy and technology. lzl 

Ahtisaari identified a number of "essential civilian needs" which 
should then have become candidates for any oil-for-food deal, 
including the lack of inputs for the agricultural sector. The mission 
recommended that "sanctions in respect of food supplies should be 
immediately removed, as should those relating to the import of agri- 
cultural equipment and supplies/' In the subsequent UNSCR 687, 
the sanctions on food were finally lifted, but those on agricultural 
equipment and supplies were not. The mission also identified the 
"energy and communications vacuum" as possessing "far-reaching 
implications" for the nature and effectiveness of the international 
response to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. It was seven years before 
"the need to restore electrical power was accepted by all Sanctions 
Committee members" in UNSCR 1153, passed in February 1998. 1Z2 
It was another year after that before telecommunications were finally 
accepted as part of the oil-for-food deal. lz:j Water and sanitation were 
identified as key areas, as was transport in support of the health 
system. None of these sectors was identified in UNSCR 687 as of 
particular significance. 

-©- -e- 

The Sadruddin recommendations 

Following UNSCR 687, mounting international pressure led to passing 
of UNSCR 706 in August 1991 (clarified by UNSCR 712 the following 
month) offering a limited, one-off oil sale by Iraq to fund humani- 
tarian purchases. It was the refusal of this offer by Baghdad that led 
to Western condemnation of Iraq, and which for many years led to 
the blame for the human suffering being laid at the Government of 
Iraq's door. For example, Cordesman and Hashim wrote in 1997: 
"The human cost of sanction [sic] to Iraq's people has scarcely, 
however, been the fault of the UN," as it was Baghdad that refused 
UNSCRs 706 and 712. 1Z4 The actual course of events is instructive. 
Following the passage of UNSCR 687, the UN Secretary-General sent 
an Executive Delegate, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, to visit Iraq and 
to report on humanitarian conditions. Sadruddin reported in July 
1991. He estimated that it would cost $22 billion to restore the power, 
oil, water, sanitation, food, agriculture and health sectors to pre-war 
levels, and argued that Iraq should be allowed to sell $6.9 billion 
over one year to restore the health services fully; the electrical sector 
to 50 percent of its pre-war capacity; the water and sanitation services 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 

90 Iraq 

to 40 percent operation; northern oil facilities to a limited extent (to 
be able to supply more oil in the future, to fund more humanitarian 
spending); to rehabilitate agriculture; and to provide subsistence food 
rations to the entire population. As a short-term measure, Sadruddin 
proposed an initial sale of $2.65 billion worth of oil over the four 
months (a third of the total amount, plus a small sum for start-up 
costs), to be renewed if arrangements were satisfactory. During 
discussions in the Security Council, the period for the one-off oil sale 
was lengthened to six months, which under the Sadruddin formula 
would have required $3.8 billion worth of oil sales (half the annual 
amount, plus start-up costs of $350 million). The UN Secretary- 
General, seeing the way the argument was drifting, argued for Iraq 
to be allowed $2.4 billion worth of oil sales. However, not all of these 
revenues were to be available for humanitarian goods. The Security 
Council had decided by then that 30 percent of all Iraqi oil revenues 
should be reserved for war compensation payments, and a small 
proportion was also set aside for UN costs. Under the Secretary- 
General's proposal, instead of Iraq receiving $3.8 billion for 
humanitarian spending over the six months, as suggested by the 
Secretary-General's own Executive Delegate, Iraq would receive only 
$1 .6 billion for humanitarian aid - just over 40 percent of its assessed 
Xy needs for six months. This proposal was rejected by the UN Security ~x3~ 

Council- by the United States, in effect -and UNSCR 712, passed 
in September 1991, actually offered Iraq only $1.6 billion in total oil 
sales over the six months, reducing the sum available for humani- 
tarian aid to "approximately $930 million over six months", less 
than 25 percent of the UN's expert assessment of humanitarian 
needs. 1ZS 

According to an aid agency staff member involved in the 
discussions in Baghdad, UN officials had already become convinced 
by late July 1991 that "the US intention was to present Saddam 
Hussein with so unattractive a package that Iraq would reject it and 
thus take on the blame, at least in western eyes, for continued civilian 
suffering. " 1Z6 This objective was achieved: Iraq did reject the offer 
contained in UNSCRs 706 and 712, and did take on the blame for 
the humanitarian crisis. James Fine, who was in Iraq in 1991 as a 
consultant to the American Friends Service Committee on relief and 
reconstruction later revealed that, in July 1991 "Iraqi officials told 
UN humanitarian administrators in Baghdad that Iraq would accept 
the Executive Delegate's recommendations. " 1Z7 But they refused the 
25 percent offer. 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 91 

Apart from the monetary value of the offer, there was also the 
curious way in which Resolution 687 bundled together into one 
account funding for the humanitarian program, war reparations, and 
funding for the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) 
weapons inspectors. According to Graham-Brown, humanitarian 
observers, "argued that humanitarian needs should have been entirely 
separated from questions of compensation and payment for the work 
of UN weapons inspectors/' The latter issues were for the Iraqi state 
alone, and government resistance to paying for these items should 
not have been allowed to affect the condition of the civilian 
population. Graham-Brown says there were "many humanitarian 
observers who felt that the 'package' deal offered under Resolutions 
706 and 712 was one which it could have been anticipated Iraq would 
refuse/' 1 Z8 

Much of the hostility to UNSCRs 706 and 712 lay in the infringe- 
ment of Iraqi sovereignty. According to the former UN 
Secretary -General, Resolution 986 "took into account some of Iraq's 
concerns over Resolutions 706 (1991) and 712 (1991) by reaffirming 
'the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial 
integrity of Iraq' and describing the new exercise as 'temporary.'" 
Citing this statement, Boone, Gazdar and Hussain remark, 

-©- -e- 

This implicit admission that Iraqi objections to those resolutions 
could be and were accommodated somewhat contradicts the 
position taken by the Security Council over a period of three years 
of stalemated negotiations [1992-95] that Iraq bore "full respon- 
sibility" for the suffering of its civilian population. 1Z9 

Similarly UN staff were asked to "monitor" the distribution of oil- 
for-food goods in UNSCRs 706/712, while under UNSCR 986, UN 
officials were to be allowed to "observe" the distribution of human- 
itarian goods. 130 UNSCR 712 specified that oil must be transported 
by the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline passing through Turkey. "This 
was meant not only to benefit Ankara, but also to give a lever to the 
anti-Saddam leaders in Iraqi Kurdistan which had been placed under 
the Western air umbrella since June 1991." 131 Iraq protested against 
this inflexibility. This diktat was also dropped three and a half years 
later in UNSCR 687. 

Another device used to make the 706/71 2 offer unpalatable to the 
Iraqis involved the financial arrangements for the scheme. Sadruddin 
Aga Khan had proposed that Iraq's existing oil revenue accounts in 


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92 Iraq 

the United States be used for the channeling of funds for the new 
humanitarian program. According to Fine, privy to the discussions 
among international humanitarian staff in Baghdad: "Under these 
proposed control and monitoring safeguards, Iraq would have had 
no more opportunity to divert or misuse relief supplies than under 
the very similar arrangements eventually mandated by the Security 
Council in August [UNSCR 706] and September [UNSCR 712]/' 132 
However, instead of using Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization 
(SOMO) account, the Resolutions established a new UN "escrow" 
account, through which Iraq's oil wealth would flow. "The escrow 
account afforded the UN no greater measure of security of control, 
but provocatively raised the issue of national sovereignty by taking 
direct possession of Iraqi national resources/' 133 Despite this, and all 
the other unnecessarily insulting arrangements, according to Sarah 
Helms, diplomatic editor for the (London) Independent, "President 
Saddam might have accepted the resolution if the higher sum 
[proposed by Sadruddin] had been agreed/' 134 

Shoring up the sanctions 

Some of the pressure for an oil-for-food deal came from Kuwait and 
other Arab states, seeking war reparations from Iraq (recall that there 
-^3~ was a 30 percent compulsory deduction for compensation built into ~^y~ 

the oil-for-food scheme). France, the Soviet Union and China all 
supported oil sales for their own reasons. 133 Part of the picture was 
the considerable international concern aroused by bodies such as 
the International Study Team (1ST), which were documenting the 
human suffering in post-war Iraq. The 1ST conducted a survey in 
August 1991, the month that UNSCR 706 was passed, which indicated 
that 47,000 children under the age of five had died in the first eight 
months of 1 991 as a result of war and sanctions. 136 In April, Ahtisaari 
had warned: "It is unmistakable that the Iraqi people may soon face 
a further imminent catastrophe, which could include epidemic and 
famine, if massive life-supporting needs are not rapidly met/' In July, 
Sadruddin Aga Khan reported, "it is evident that for large numbers 
of the people of Iraq, every passing month brings them closer to the 
brink of calamity/' 

In London and Washington, however, these were not the overriding 
concerns. Sarah Graham-Brown reports that an observer "closely 
involved in the discussions suggested that the main preoccupation 
of the US and UK was to ensure that the pressure on Iraq was 
maintained/' She quotes a US official as saying that the proposal for 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 93 

a limited oil sale was "a good way to maintain the bulk of the sanctions 
and not be on the wrong side of a potentially emotive issue/' She 
also refers to British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd's statement that 
the arrangements had to be "limited and watertight/' 137 The 
"potentially emotive issue" was, of course, the deaths of tens of 
thousands of Iraqi children in an oil-rich country. In May 1998 the 
US Under Secretary for Political Affairs and formerly US Ambassador 
to the UN stated, "In a very real sense, the 'oil-for-food' program is 
the key to sustaining the sanctions regime until Iraq complies with 
its obligations/' As Iraq was unlikely to comply: "That means, as far 
as the US is concerned, that sanctions will be a fact of life for the 
foreseeable future/' 138 

London diverges 

Interestingly, during the failed negotiations around this first oil-for- 
food proposal, the British Government indicated greater openness 
than was shown by Washington. "In January [1992], the British 
Government had indicated to the new UN Secretary-General, Boutros 
Boutros-Ghali, that it was willing to see minor 'face-saving' 
adjustments if the Iraqis agreed to the resolutions as a whole/' The 
modifications Britain and other Security Council members adopted 
-^3~ "proved too drastic for the US Government, which refused to accept ~^y~ 

them/' 139 Washington had crafted a resolution designed to be refused: 
no softening of its terms was to be permitted, despite the international 
pressure and the mounting evidence of a humanitarian emergency. 
This was an early sign of British queasiness, which was to result in 
some important initiatives. 

Rights, distinction and punishment 

Neither UNSCR 706 nor UNSCR 712 mentioned the human rights 
impact of the sanctions, or indeed of the oil-for-food deal. Neither 
resolution referred to the need to monitor any human-rights impact. 
Neither resolution improved the accuracy of the comprehensive 
economic sanctions. Neither resolution showed any deviation from 
the punitive stance embodied in UNSCR 687. Consciously and delib- 
erately offering a quarter of the funds that a UN humanitarian mission 
had calculated were necessary amounts to a deliberate assault on the 
general population, and a premeditated violation of their human 
rights on a large scale. Offering these funds in the most insulting 
possible fashion, to minimize the risk of the offer being accepted, 
confirms the punitive character of the sanctions regime. 


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94 Iraq 


As the humanitarian situation inside Iraq experienced a "rapid dete- 
rioration" in 1994, pressure mounted for a response from the Security 
Council. "Some observers maintain that that the US promoted a new 
resolution for a limited sale of oil for humanitarian purposes in order 
to lessen the pressure for sanctions to be lifted." Graham-Brown 
points to the Congressional testimony of US Assistant Secretary of 
State Robert Pelletreau - "Implementation of the resolution is not a 
precursor to lifting sanctions. It is a humanitarian exception that 
preserves and even reinforces the sanctions regime" - and a remark 
by US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright- "Erankly it is the 
best of all possible ways to make sure that the sanctions regime 
remains in place so that Saddam Hussein is not entitled to pretend 
he is concerned for his people and shed a lot of crocodile tears." 140 
Growing US isolation had become visible in March 1994, when the 
Security Council had to discontinue presidential statements on Iraq, 
as Russia, Erance and China demanded a statement reflecting Iraq's 
cooperation with UN Resolutions. 141 UNSCR 986, adopted by the 
Security Council in April 1995, was "drafted by the US, which this 
time was interested in getting Iraq to accept." 142 Iraq finally accepted 
-Q- the Resolution in principle in January 1996, and negotiations began, -Q- 

which Washington - and London - did little to help. "The US and 
UK directly intervened in negotiations between the UN Secretariat 
and the Iraqi Government, prolonging the process of agreeing to a 
memorandum of understanding for its implementation." The UN 
Secretariat and other Security Council members "did not conceal 
their annoyance at this approach." 143 In April 1996, an agreement 
was derailed when US and British negotiators "insisted on 20 new 
conditions before the deal could be ratified." 144 

Raising and abolishing the ceiling on oil sales 

As noted, UNSCR 986 introduced some soothing phrases regarding 
Iraq's sovereignty and transformed UN "monitors" into UN 
"observers." It also established a separate escrow account for the 
purchase of goods for the three northern governorates of Iraq, which 
had established a semi-autonomous Kurdish administration under 
the protection of US and British power. Under Paragraph 8(b), 
roughly 13 percent of Iraqi oil revenues would go into this account, 
mainly to be used by the UN itself to buy goods for the northern 
governorates. 143 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 95 

Crucially, the resolution also increased the amount of oil that Iraq 
could sell every six months from $1.6 billion to $2 billion - still 
roughly $1.5 billion short of Sadruddin Aga Khan's recommenda- 
tions. The ceiling on oil sales then underwent two more stages. In 
February 1998 UNSCR 1153 more than doubled the amount of oil 
Iraq was allowed to sell, as that the six-monthly maximum income 
was set at $5.52 billion. With deductions, that meant that Iraq could 
earn up to $3.6 billion for humanitarian purchases. Almost two years 
later, in December 1999, UNSCR 1284 removed the ceiling on oil 
sales entirely. 

At its original level of $2 billion per six-month phase, oil-for-food 
was clearly incapable of addressing the infra structural needs of Iraqi 
society. In a February 1998 review of the operation of the oil-for-food 
deal, UN Secretary -General Kofi Annan demanded the provision of 
more resources to begin to halt the continuing deterioration of the 
civilian infrastructure, and, in particular, to address the needs of the 
electricity sector. UNSCR 1153, which adopted his figure of $5.52 
billion per phase, was passed on 20 February 1998, in the midst of a 
protracted international crisis over weapons inspections in Iraq. The 
military crisis drew international attention to the humanitarian crisis, 
setting a pattern for a new period in Iraq's fortunes. Graham-Brown 
Xy comments that the massive increase in revenues "was evidently ~x3~ 

intended to send a signal that the Security Council was not targeting 
the Iraqi people, so retaining the high moral ground for hard-line 
states and ensuring that sanctions remained in place/' 146 The lifting 
of the ceiling on oil sales at the end of 1999 raised the question of 
why, given the extensive controls over oil revenues and humanitar- 
ian purchases, there had ever been any ceiling at all. 

Some limitations of oil-for-food 

Earlier, we noted the dual challenge of recovery: reconstructing the 
public health infrastructure in Iraq, and restoring family purchasing 
power. The oil-for-food program could hope to stem deterioration in 
certain sectors, and in the case of the food ration in particular it could 
increase the nutrition available to family members, but it was 
inherently incapable of repairing the infrastructure to create a healthier 
environment, or of re-inflating the economy to provide jobs and 
higher real incomes. Hence the protest resignations of, first, Denis 
Halliday, and then Hans von Sponeck, from the position of UN 
Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, in charge of the operation of oil- 
for-food on the ground in Iraq in September 1998 and January 2000 


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96 Iraq 

respectively. While the ceiling on oil sales existed, the revenues 
available were clearly inadequate: in April 1998, Denis Halliday told 
reporters that $ 1 billion was required to restore the electrical system, 
"but only $300m can be afforded" every six months under oil-for- 
food. 147 Human Rights Watch, Save the Children (UK), and four 
other NGOs pointed out in August 2000 that, "short-term emergency 
assistance is no longer appropriate to the scale of this crisis": "The 
deterioration in Iraq's civilian infrastructure is so far reaching that it 
can only be reversed with extensive investment and development 
efforts." 148 Estimates of the sums required for reconstruction of the 
infrastructure range from $50 billion to $100 billion, "of which $30bn 
must be spent on imported equipment, machinery and spare parts". 149 
Hence the need for foreign investment and foreign loans, as suggested 
by The Economist. 

As for family purchasing power, the oil-for-food deal can barely 
affect this vital parameter. Tun Myat, von Sponeck's replacement as 
UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said in January 2001, "the 
sad fact is that the average poor Iraqi household has become so poor 
that they can't afford to eat all the food they get for free.„For many 
of these people, the food rations they get on a monthly basis represent 
the major part of their household income." Part of the ration must 
-^3~ ^ e s °ld to purchase clothes, travel, medicines, and so on. 130 Hanny ~^y~ 

Megally, director of the Middle East and North Africa division of 
Human Rights Watch, said in August 2000: 

Sanctions intended to block the government's access to foreign 
exchange have contributed to pervasive life-threatening public 
health conditions for millions of innocent people. An emergency 
commodity assistance program like oil-for-food, no matter how well 
funded or well run, cannot reverse the devastating consequences 
of war and then ten years of virtual shut-down of Iraq's economy. 131 

As the Humanitarian Panel observed in March 1999, "the humani- 
tarian situation in Iraq will continue to be a dire one in the absence 
of a sustained revival of the Iraqi economy." 132 The simple supply of 
goods- "aggregate commodity supplies" as Dreze and Gazdar referred 
to them - cannot solve the problems of family purchasing power. 

The essential ingredients of a serious recovery package seem to 
include free access to foreign investment, foreign loans, foreign 
exchange, and foreign markets - to allow Iraqi businesses to earn 
their way in the world. 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 97 

The Sanctions Committee 

Under the oil-for-food deal, each six months there is a new "phase" 
of the program. Iraq submits a "distribution plan" to the UN, setting 
out the humanitarian budget in each sector for the next phase. Once 
the UN Secretariat agrees to the plan, Iraq then arranges contracts to 
acquire these goods from suppliers around the world. In its original 
form, once the contract had been signed, it was submitted to the 
Sanctions Committee for approval. The Sanctions Committee is made 
up of the 15 members of the UN Security Council - five permanent 
members, and eleven temporary members rotating in and out of the 
Council, and therefore also in and out of the Sanctions Committee. 
If a contract is approved, the money is released, and the goods supplied 
to Iraq. Contracts can be vetoed by a single member state -no reason 
need be given. No record has ever been published of the Committee's 
proceedings. Graham-Brown notes that: "Until 1995, no record of its 
discussions or decisions was made public or even circulated to 
interested parties such as Humanitarian Organizations, Security 
Council members, or the sanctioned state, Iraq." 133 Interestingly, no 
list was compiled of "banned items", until UNSCR 1051 formalized 
the procedures for potential dual-use items in March 1996. 
rh According to Graham-Brown, the Sanctions Committee came to (T\ 

a "gentleman's agreement" in December 1991 that members would 
"generally look favorably on requests" within certain categories of 
humanitarian items. Among these items were civilian clothing, 
supplies for babies and infants, and, most important, spare parts and 
materials for water treatment and sewage disposal plants. The 
Ambassador for Zimbabwe, on behalf of the non-aligned members 
of the Security Council, argued for certain sectors to simply be exempt 
from the Sanctions Committee veto - to be pre-approved. "However, 
the hard-line members of the Committee would not accept this, and 
the informal understanding was a compromise." 134 Britain and the 
US were not to relent for another eight years. 


The events of 1998 marked a turning point for Iraq, as the military 
crises at the beginning and end of the year moved the country to the 
center of international attention, and the human suffering caused 
by economic sanctions gained salience. I do not propose to examine 
either crisis in detail here, but there is an aspect of the December 


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98 Iraq 

crisis which is relevant to our concerns. The bombardment of Iraq 
in December 1998 followed a long, slow decline in relations between 
Iraq and the UNSCOM weapons inspectorate. The reason given by 
Britain and the United States for their bombing raids was that the 
head of UNSCOM, Richard Butler, had found Baghdad guilty of non- 
compliance with its obligations tinder UNSCR 687, and that Iraq had 
ceased cooperating with UNSCOM. On the first charge, Richard 
Butler's hardline report took UN diplomats by surprise: "The whole 
diplomatic community, which has been closely monitoring these 
inspections, was surprised by the report/' said a senior Western 
diplomat. "We did not consider that the problems reported during 
the one month of inspections were major incidents/' This was not 
to justify Iraqi actions, "but many of the problems encountered point 
to the need to establish clearer rules for inspections/' according to 
the diplomat. "UNSCOM's mandate says it should have full access 
but take into account Iraq's sovereignty, dignity and national security 
concerns. This leaves room for questions, and will always give rise 
to problems/' 133 

As for the ending of cooperation with UNSCOM, the Financial 
Times reported that "Mr. Saddam's decision to cripple UNSCOM was 
A\ triggered by the US refusal explicitly to commit itself to lifting the A\ 

v oil embargo if Iraq complied with disarmament requirements - as v 

stipulated by" Article 22 of UNSCR 68 7. 136 Iraq had been seeking 
various reassurances from the Security Council before resuming full 
cooperation with the weapons inspectors. It had asked in particular 
about Paragraph 22 of UNSCR 687. On 30 October 1998, the day 
before Iraq ended cooperation, "the US rejected proposals by Russia, 
France and China that would have clearly committed the security 
council to a lifting of the oil embargo if Iraq complied with require- 
ments to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction/' 137 The Economist 
observed: "Iraq interpreted this as confirmation of its long-held -and 
plausible - belief that, even if it did come clean on all its weapons, 
no American administration would lift the oil embargo so long as 
Mr. Hussein remained in power/' 138 Paragraph 22 of UNSCR 687 
says that once nuclear, chemical, biological and missile disarmament 
has been verified, the oil embargo will be lifted. The US, with crucial 
British support, refused to reaffirm this. The 30 October Security 
Council "clarification" which refused to reaffirm Article 22 was 
"drafted by Britain": it "triggered Saddam's decree on 31 October 
that stymied UNSCOM entirely/' The Independent commented, 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 99 

"Saddam had some reason for anger - the integrity of Article 22 is 
crucial for him/' 139 

Britain and the United States said that there was no alternative to 
the use of force in response to Iraqi obstructionism. There was an 
alternative. It was to reaffirm the provisions of UNSCR 687. A Security 
Council Resolution was subverted not by Baghdad, but by London 
and Washington, and the consequence was the collapse of the 
weapons inspection process and more loss of life and property 
destruction during Operation Desert Fox. 160 


At the beginning of 1999, Washington was forced to repair some of 
the diplomatic damage caused by the December raids. One reason 
for international anger was that the US/UK attacks had violated 
Paragraph 5 of UNSCR 1154, passed in March 1998, which stated 
that the Security Council would "remain actively seized" of the matter 
concerning Iraqi non-compliance, explicitly reserving to itself any 
decisions on how to respond to future Iraqi non-compliance. 161 The 
Anglo-Saxon alliance was also on the defensive once again, as Erance 
introduced a proposal that the oil embargo be suspended as soon as 
-^3~ a long-term weapons monitoring system was established. 162 On 13 ~^y~ 

January 1999, the US responded by calling for the removal of the 
ceiling on Iraqi oil exports - though this was not actually implemented 
until December 1999. Ike Times, reporting Britain's support for the 
US proposal, commented: 

Since Iraq cannot meet existing UN oil sales quotas because of the 
low price of crude, the practical effect would be small. But the 
political effect would be huge: Britain would be free of claims that 
it is punishing the Iraqi people, while Baghdad could claim success 
in ridding itself of the embargo. 163 

Britain could replace a formal ceiling on oil sales with a de facto cap, 
and would undermine the mounting criticism of the two sponsors 
of the sanctions. The Washington Post noted that: "The growing sense 
in many countries that the sanctions have outlived their usefulness 
seemed a major factor in spurring the US proposals/' It was "an open 
secret" that a growing majority of countries on the Security Council 
favor "or are leaning toward" lifting the sanctions. If the trend 
continued, UN diplomats believed the United States could become 


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100 Iraq 

so isolated that it would be able to maintain the sanctions only by 
using its veto. "In that case, the same diplomats predict, it would be 
only a matter of time before Arab countries and possibly France and 
Russia, which are in line to win concessions in the Iraqi oil industry, 
start to break the embargo/' 164 

The Green Lists 

The ceiling on oil sales was finally lifted in December 1999, with 
UNSCR 1284. A number of other reforms were also introduced, 
including the first of the "green lists". Early in the life of the Sanctions 
Committee, according to Hoskins, lists of approved items were occa- 
sionally circulated "to guide member states and other applicants/' 163 
The Green Lists were an expansion and public formalization of this 
process, along the lines Zimbabwe had proposed eight years earlier. 
In each favored sector, items that were uncontroversial were described 
in a list of pre-approved goods that need not come before the Sanctions 
Committee, and which therefore could not be subject to the veto of 
the Committee members. 

The water sector 

Earlier we referred to what Graham-Brown described as a "gentlemen's 
-^3~ agreement" in December 1991 not to interfere overly with imports ~^y~ 

in certain sectors, including spare parts and materials for water 
treatment and sewage disposal plants. 166 We do not know how long 
the "agreement" lasted, or how well it functioned, but it is clear that 
water and sewage treatment did not receive "favorable" treatment in 
later years. In October 1999, Benon Sevan, the Executive Director of 
oil-for-food, reported that 54.4 percent of all applications in the water 
and sanitation sector circulated under phase V of the program had 
been placed on hold. An anonymous UN official told the US magazine 
Countei punch: "Basically, anything with chemicals or even pumps is 
liable to get thrown out." 167 

The Secretary-General reported in September 2000 that: "In the area 
of water and sanitation, infra structural degradation is evident across 
the sub sectors, from water treatment to water distribution." He noted 
that the "the decay rate of the entire system is accelerating." Four 
years of oil-for-food had resulted not in an improved situation, or in 
a stabilization of the situation, or even a steady decline. Four years 
of oil-for-food in one of the most critical sectors for child health had 
produced an "accelerating" rate of decay within the sector. The cause 
being "the absence of key complementary items currently on hold 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 101 

and adequate maintenance, spare parts and staffing/' 168 As of 31 
April 2000, $702 million worth of contracts had been submitted to 
the Sanctions Committee for the water and sanitation sector. $447 
million (63.8 percent) had been approved, and $168 million (23.4 
percent) remained on hold. 169 As in many sectors, the absence of 
some of the goods on hold may have impaired or blocked the 
performance of equipment which had been approved and imported 
and installed. This is the problem of "complementarity", described 
by oil-for-food coordinator Benon Sevan in a report in October 1999. 
Sevan noted that a "serious issue" arises when applications are 
approved by the Sanctions Committee, and the equipment arrives 
in Iraq but then has to be kept in storage for an extended period 
"because another interrelated or complementary application is on 
hold': "The absence of a single item of equipment, sometimes insignif- 
icant in size or value, can be sufficient to prevent the completion of 
an entire project." 170 "What is the use," Sevan asked, in a statement 
to the Council in September 2000, "if approval is given for the 
purchase of a very expensive truck and the application for the purchase 
of its ignition key is placed on hold?" 171 On this occasion, Sevan also 
made the following extraordinary remarks: 

I am sure some of you will now tell me: "Benon, come on, not 
again, you sound like a broken record!" Well, so be it. As the 
Executive Director of the Iraq Program, I feel duty bound to draw 
the attention of the Council to the unacceptably high level of 
holds placed on applications. 

A Green List for the water and sanitation sector, containing over 
1500 items was approved by the Sanctions Committee on 1 1 August 
2000. Despite this, in November 2001 the Secretary -General was still 
forced to complain that, "In order to significantly increase and 
improve water production and quality in the 15 governorates, major 
rehabilitation of water treatment plants is necessary and can be 
undertaken only when electromechanical equipment for the plants 
are released from hold." 172 

Suspension of sanctions 

The other main plank of UNSCR 1284 was the offer to suspend 
sanctions in return for Iraqi cooperation with a new UN weapons 
inspection body named the United Nations Monitoring, Verification 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 


102 Iraq 

and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) . The resolution was caught 
between two competing priorities. On the one hand, it held out the 
prospect of clarity of thresholds for lifting sanctions - UNMOVIC 
and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were to develop 
work programmers identifying "the key remaining disarmament tasks 
to be completed by Iraq/' where "what is required of Iraq for the 
implementation of each task shall be clearly defined and precise" 
(Paragraph 7). On the other hand, this work program was not drawn 
up for up to two months, during which time Iraq was to permit new 
weapons inspectors into the country. Then, Iraq was asked to cooperate 
"in all respects" with the inspectors for another four months before 
sanctions on imports and exports might be lifted. The Security Council 
expressed its "intention" of suspending sanctions on civilian goods 
in those circumstances (Paragraph 33). Calling the Resolution's 
wording "too ambiguous," Erench Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine 
said "we think it may give rise to an interpretation allowing some 
countries to keep on forever saying that the co-operation hasn't taken 
place and that, consequently, the embargo can't be suspended. That's 
what we fear." 173 

The Anglo-Dutch proposal 

-^3~ An interesting aspect of the resolution is that it originated in an ~^y~ 

independent initiative by London, one that Washington was quite 
unhappy with. Britain co-sponsored a draft UN resolution with the 
Netherlands which offered Iraq more than the US was willing to 
contemplate. Eor example, it seemed at one point as if the Anglo-Dutch 
proposal contained an offer to allow foreign firms to invest in Iraq's 
oil fields if Baghdad cooperated with UN weapons inspectors. The BBC 
reported that the United States was backing "most provisions" in the 
Anglo-Dutch draft resolution. 174 

In the event, the foreign investment component was watered down 
- the Secretary -General is supposed to establish a group of experts to 
"make recommendations on alternatives" to increase Iraqi oil exports, 
"including on the options for involving foreign oil companies in 
Iraq's oil sector." The Council "expresses its intention to take measures" 
based on these recommendations, after being notified by UN 
inspectors that Iraq has demonstrated "full cooperation" with 
inspectors for a period of 120 days (Paragraphs 30, 37). 

The Anglo-Dutch draft also included a pledge to (temporarily) 
reduce the proportion of Iraq's oil revenues diverted to non-human- 
itarian purposes. Paragraph 24 stated that one-third of the funds 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 


British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 103 

which would otherwise be transferred to the Compensation Fund shall 
be loaned, "on a fully reimbursable basis/' to the humanitarian escrow 
account for northern and south/central Iraq. 173 In other words, the 
proportion deducted for war reparations would fall from 30 to 20 
percent. This was dropped completely from the final resolution. 

The British initiative had succeeded in shaking the US sufficiently 
for Washington to accept the lifting of the ceiling. British and Dutch 
officials argued that, "America had for the first time agreed to a 
graduated easing of sanctions as a trade off for Iraqi co-operation 
with UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors, instead of demanding cast- 
iron evidence of Iraq's total compliance on disarmament and/or 
Saddam's overthrow/' 176 

On the other hand, White House National Security Adviser Sandy 
Berger revealed the traditional motivation for US support for the 
reforms when talking to CBS News: "I think the sanctions will have, 
in some sense, a greater degree of legitimacy and acceptability around 
the world because we offered them [the Iraqis] an opportunity to a 
path to come out of sanctions if they disarm, which they've 
rejected/' 177 


Oil-for-food has now embarked on its third stage. The humanitarian 
program entered its second stage when the ceiling on oil sales was 
removed and the Green Lists were introduced. Now, with UNSCR 
1409, the Green Lists have changed color, and it owes a great deal to 
British efforts. 

UK/ US convergence? 

Observers detected somewhat divergent paths taken by Britain and 
the United States nearly a year after UNSCR 1284 had been passed. 
According to Ike Times, 

In a move that could cause serious friction with the United States, 
which is working for the overthrow of the Saddam regime, Peter 
Hain, the Foreign Office Minister responsible for the Middle East, 
said that he wanted to see the decade-long embargo lifted. 

Hain restated the need for six month's cooperation with weapons 
inspectors before sanctions could be suspended. "Although his 
message was a broad restatement of existing policy, the tone was 


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104 Iraq 

vastly different from earlier statements/' Again according to The 
Times, "Britain has been tinder growing pressure from moderate Arab 
countries to ease the ten-year embargo on Iraq, which is being broken 
almost daily by flights, VIP visits and cross-border trade/' Across the 
Arab and Islamic worlds, Britain and America's tough stand against 
Baghdad has been "widely criticized" for punishing the Iraqi people 
and leaving the regime intact. Hain revealed publicly that Britain 
had been making indirect approaches to Baghdad through friendly 
Arab governments in an effort to persuade the Iraqis to change their 
minds. He even hinted that if the Iraqis began to cooperate there 
could be movement on the question of the no-fly zones, the areas 
of northern and southern Iraq being patrolled by British and American 
warplanes. "Taken together, Mr. Hain's remarks suggest a reorienta- 
tion of British policy towards Iraq/' 178 BBC News Online reported that: 
"Both Britain and the US are worried about the erosion of sanctions 
around the edges, demonstrated by a wave of international flights 
to Baghdad which have taken advantage of loopholes in the air 
embargo/' 179 The flights had been one powerful symbol of a dramatic 
upwelling of sympathy with ordinary people in Iraq, part of a wave 
of concern around the tenth anniversary of the imposition of sanctions 
sT\ - note that most, if not all of the anti-war statements in the earlier rt\ 

v section come from precisely this period. v 

However, there had been similar stirrings in Washington. US Under 
Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas Pickering, had said in 
1998 that sanctions would continue "in perpetuity/' In August 2000, 
Pickering rejected any alternatives to total sanctions as having "huge 
consequences and great difficulties/' 180 Then, in November 2000 
Pickering declared that while US Iraq policy had been "a very effective 
course of action", it was "inevitable" that "time marches on and cir- 
cumstances require us to adapt/' Pickering laid out what was seen at 
the time as "a blueprint for the next administration" for narrowing 
the sanctions: keep sanctions on "dual-use items," "weapons of mass 
destruction delivery vehicles" and "the full range of military capa- 
bilities." Crucially, "make certain the UN and not Saddam Hussein 
continues to control money that comes from Iraqi oil exports." 181 
Faint traces of new thinking could be found at the beginning of the 
year. The Christian Science Monitor reported that on 25 February 2000, 
President Clinton said he was considering if there was "some way to 
continue our policy of meeting human needs without allowing 
Saddam Hussein to rearm." 182 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 105 

It is a curious coincidence that Hain and US Under Secretary of State 
Pickering made their more conciliatory remarks on almost the same 
day in November 2000, just days after a high-level meeting between 
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Vice-President Ezzat Ibrahim 
of Iraq. In this connection, it is worth noting that Menzies Campbell, 
in his November 2000 condemnation of the government's "undeclared 
war" on Iraq, also reiterated his party's call for the lifting of non- 
military sanctions against Iraq. The Guardian reported: "His remarks, 
coming at a time when sanctions against Iraq are crumbling fast, are 
particularly significant since Mr. Campbell is close to the Foreign 
Office establishment. There are many in the FO [Foreign Office] who 
believe that the government's policy towards Iraq is unsustainable/' 183 

So there is reason to believe the Daily Telegraph when it reported 
that: "Foreign Office officials have been privately rethinking the 
sanctions policy given the growing difficulty of defending it in the 
Arab world, and even at home/' 184 "According to British and 
American sources, the British recently told the Americans that the 
allies needed a new, more focused and effective strategy against 
Saddam/' 183 While the context suggests these remarks were primarily 
concerned with military strategy, the evidence suggests that British 
pressure almost certainly addressed the sanctions issue as well, and 
-^3~ that there was a convergence in Washington and London - in some ~^y~ 

policy-making circles, at least. Hence, the reports at the beginning 
of 2001 that, "America and Britain are preparing to offer radical 
changes to answer charges that the sanctions disproportionately 
harm the Iraqi people/' 186 

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1409 

The first step came from Norway, which took charge of the Sanctions 
Committee in January 2001, and promptly proposed lifting the export 
ban "on around 80 percent of the goods on the sanctions list/' "We 
have gone through all the rejected export applications to Iraq, and 
shown where unsubstantiated withholding of contracts have taken 
place/' said Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorbjoern Jagland. "We 
have shown this to other members of the Security Council, and 
received a positive response/' he said. 187 This initiative became the 
basis of UNSCR 1409, passed in May 2002, which was, in essence, 
very simple. Instead of having Green Lists of pre-approved goods 
which did not have to go before the Sanctions Committee, the new 
oil-for-food program would have an Amber List (or "Goods Review 
List") of suspect dual-use goods, which would have to go before the 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 


106 Iraq 

Sanctions Committee. The presumption of innocence was introduced 
- unless the item was identified on the military or dual-use lists, it 
was acceptable. 

The problem here is that the flow of goods is not in itself the root 
of the problem. The humanitarian crisis cannot be solved by increasing 
"aggregate commodity supplies/' The framework created by UNSCR 
1409 merely reformulates the perennial problems of human rights 
impact, lack of distinction, and punitive structure and intent. There 
is no effort to address the problems of massive infrastructure costs 
and collapsed family purchasing power. There is nothing here to 
facilitate direct access to foreign investment, foreign loans, foreign 
exchange or foreign markets. The purpose is still to buttress rather 
than erode sanctions. As an unnamed US official said in May 2001 : 
"In reality this is a change in perceptions/' 188 


Applying the three-dimensional analysis of human rights, distinction, 
and punishment, it is clear that throughout the twelve years under 
discussion, the economic sanctions have retained their lethal power 
even as the flow of humanitarian goods has increased dramatically. 
-^3~ Insofar as the sanctions have been concerned, Britain has never ~^y~ 

championed either a human-rights-impact assessment, at the 
procedural level, or internationally recognized human rights 
themselves, at the substantive level. While sponsoring discussions 
developing the concept of "smart sanctions" for use elsewhere in the 
world, London has steadfastly refused to accept a withdrawal from 
comprehensive economic sanctions with regard to Iraq, despite the 
concerns raised by, among others, the House of Commons Select 
Committee on International Development. Britain has played a crucial 
part in attacking the integrity of UNSCR 687, supposedly the 
foundation stone of the sanctions regime, by denying the validity of 
Paragraph 22, which promised Iraq an end to restrictions on its 
exports in return for an internationally validated disarmament process. 
It was the October 1998 Security Council letter drafted by Britain - 
which refused to reaffirm Paragraph 22 - that led to the final 
breakdown in relations between Baghdad and UNSCOM; which led 
to Operation Desert Fox and the withdrawal of UN weapons inspectors 
at the behest of the United States; 189 and which led to the inspections 
vacuum from December 1998 to the time of writing in June 2002. 
On the other hand, Britain has played a part in reducing the punitive 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 107 

character of the sanctions - for example, by helping to develop the 
offer of a staged suspension of economic sanctions inUNSCR 1284. 
Unfortunately, such changes have been marginal in character. They 
have been part of a series of tactical retreats by both Britain and the 
United States, in response to increasing pressure from world opinion. 
Both London and Washington have remained committed to the 
priority of their own interests over the basic needs and human rights 
of the 22 million people of Iraq. The fundamental dual objective of 
the United States and of Britain appears to have been the defeat and 
destruction of Saddam Hussein while retaining the Ba'athist regime. 
This goal has remained steady, regardless of the human cost, and the 
strategy has experienced only tactical modifications as the political 
costs have mounted. Britain has shown signs of feeling greater pressure 
than the United States, hence its early wobbles on UNSC Resolutions 
706 and 712, when it apparently indicated its willingness to accept 
a removal of some of the more humiliating aspects of the oil-for- 
food deal, and its sponsorship of the precursor to UNSCR 1284 -the 
Anglo-Dutch draft resolution which went considerably beyond 
Washington's zone of tolerance. There is evidence to suggest that 
Britain also played an important part in the process leading up to the 
A\ latest revision of the sanctions regime, the presumption of innocence A\ 

v for civilian imports into Iraq built into UNSCR 1409, and that it has v 

sought strenuously to achieve Iraqi acceptance of the 
disarmament/suspension process involved in UNSCR 1 284. However, 
the block on direct access to foreign investment, foreign loans, foreign 
exchange and foreign markets has remained absolute. The civilian 
infrastructure has been denied speedy reconstruction, and millions 
of ordinary Iraqi families have been denied the opportunity to earn 
living wages. Foreign Office Minister, Brian Wilson, was forthright 
in June 2001 : "There can be little doubt that the resumption of normal 
economic activity would benefit the Iraqi people" - he went on to 
repeat the disingenuous line that "this cannot happen while the Iraqi 
regime continues to defy UN resolutions/' 190 The core of the UN 
resolutions is the disarmament process, and Iraq's incentive for 
complying with the disarmament process was fatally wounded by 
Britain's sabotage of Paragraph 22. Britain remains committed to 
maintaining Iraq in "strict tutelage", and the lessons are learned 
every day by Iraqi children. Lessons taught in Drogheda. Lessons 
which have been taught through the centuries. Lessons of hunger 
and despair. 


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108 Iraq 


1. H.J. Hewitt. The Organisation of War under Edward III (Manchester: 
Manchester University Press, 1 966) cited in Richard W. Kaeuper. War, 
Justice and Public Order: England and France in the later Middle Ages 
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 84. 

2. Cyril Falls, Elizabeth's Irish Wars (London: Methuen, 1950), p. 134. 

3. Ibid., pp. 240, 264,255. 

4. Robert Thompson. Make for the Hills: Memories of Far Eastern Wars 
(London: Leo Cooper, 1989), p. 93. 

5. Cited in Robert Wooster. Ihe Military and United States Indian Policy 
1865- 1903 (London, 1988), p. 135. 

6. Cited in J. G. Simms. "The Restoration and the Jacobite War, (1660-91)/' 
in T.W. Moody and F.X. Martin (eds). The Course of Irish History (Cork: 
Mercier, 1984), p. 205. 

7. Cited in Robert Wooster, The Military, p. 136. 

8. Time (26 November 2001), p. 43. 

9. News-week (1 1 March 2002), p. 28. 

10. Time (13 May 2002), p. 38. 

11. Anthony H. Cordesman and Ahmed S. Hashim. Iraq: Sanctions and 
Beyond (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997), p. 158. 

12. Cordesman and Hashim, Iraq, pp. 4, 146. 

13. Ibid., p. 160. 

14. Center for Economic and Social Rights, Unsanctioned suffering: A Human 
Rights Assessment of United Nations Sanctions on Iraq (New York, CESR, 

-£fr- May 1996), p. 34. -£|X 

15. Ibid. V 

16. Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the 
Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Yugoslavia (Serbia and 
Montenegrc}) f 1993 I.C.J. 325, 440 (Sep. Op. Lauterpacht). 

17. United Nations General Assembly, Respect for Human Rights in Armed 
Conflict, UNGARes. 2444, 23 UNGAOR Supp. (No. 18) (1968), at 164. 

18. Second Report of the International Development Committee, Session 
1999-2000, The Future of Sanctions, HC 67 (10 February 2000), para. 62. 

19. Margaret Thatcher. The Downing Street Years (London: HarperCollins, 
1993), p. 818. 

20. Eric Hoskins. "The Humanitarian Impacts of Economic Sanctions and 
War in Iraq/' in Thomas G. Weiss, David Cortright, George A. Lopez 
and Larry Minear (eds) Political Gain and Civilian Pain: Humanitarian 
Impacts of Economic Sanctions (Lanham/Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 
1997), pp. 100, 101. It may be relevant to add that "medical supplies" 
were defined very narrowly. The Council of the European Communities, 
the highest body of the European Economic Community (as the EU 
was known then), passed a Regulation on 8 August which specified 
the exemption of "Medical products" including hormones, antibiotics, 
blood, vaccines, bandages, and certain pharmaceutical goods. Annex 
to "Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2340/90 of 8 August 1 990 preventing 
trade by the Community as regards Iraq and Kuwait", reproduced in 
Geoff Simons. The Scourging of Iraq: Sanctions, Law and Natural Justice 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 


British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 109 

(Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998, 2nd edn), p. 257. Disinfectants, surgical 
instruments, surgical gloves, needles and syringes, and other basic 
medical supplies were not exempted from the sanctions. 

21. CESR, UN sanctioned Suffering, p. 35. 

22. Noam Chomsky. Deterring Democracy (London: Verso, 1991), pp. 190-3, 

23. Percy Craddock. In Pursuit of British Interests: Reflections on Foreign Policy 
under Margaret Thatcher and John Major (London: John Murray, 1997), 
p. 177. 

24. John Major. J he Autobiography (London: HarperCollins, 1999), p. 226. 

25. Sarah Graham-Brown. Sanctioning Saddam: The Politics of Intervention 
in Iraq (London: LB. Tauris, 1999), p. 57. 

26. Craddock, In Pursuit of British Interests, p. 183. 

27. Graham-Brown, Sanctioning Saddam, p. 78. 

28. Ibid., p. 79. 

29. Cited in Dilip Hiro. Neighbors, not Friends: Iraq and Iran after the Gulf 
Wars (London: Routledge, 2001), p. 76. 

30. There were also three other demands in UNSCR 687, though none of 
these was explicitly linked to the lifting of economic sanctions. First, 
the Kuwait/Iraq border was to be defined by a UN Commission; Iraq 
was to accept the findings of this Commission, and to accept the 
sovereignty of Kuwait itself; and Iraq was to accept the establishment 
of a monitored, demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait. These 
demands were fulfilled with a declaration from the Iraqi parliament 
in November 1994. Second, Kuwaiti and third-party nationals held in 

C^) Iraq were to be repatriated, and stolen Kuwaiti property returned. On C^) 

this issue, the Kuwaiti Government continues to accuse Baghdad of 
holding 600 missing Kuwaiti citizens; most state-owned property has 
been returned, but Kuwaiti military equipment and most privately- 
owned assets taken in 1991 appear to remain in Iraqi hands, according 
to Eric Hoskins (Hoskins, "Humanitarian Impacts", p. 139). Strictly 
speaking, Iraq was not actually required by the Resolution to return 
property- Paragraph 15: "Requests the Secretary- General to report to 
the Security Council on the steps taken to facilitate the return of all 
Kuwaiti property seized by Iraq, including a list of any property that 
Kuwait claims has not been returned or which has not been returned 
intact." As for the prisoner issue, Paragraph 30 merely required Iraqi 
cooperation with the Red Cross; it did not demand the return of all 
missing individuals. Third, Iraq was to renounce international terrorism, 
and was no longer to allow "any organization directed towards 
commission of such acts to operate within its territory." According to 
Paragraph 33, these were conditions, along with the disarmament 
provisions, for the declaration of a formal ceasefire between Kuwait and 
its allies on the one hand, and Iraq on the other. So there were four 
different sets of conditions required for lifting export sanctions; for 
lifting import sanctions; for ending the arms embargo; and for a formal 
end to the war. 

31. Hiro, Neighbors, not Friends, p. 80. 

32. CESR, LNsanctioned Suffering, p. 43. 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 


110 Iraq 

33. Cordesman and Hashim, Iraq, -p. 160. 

34. "Use of the phrase 'regime change' marks an important strengthening 
of Mr Blair's rhetoric, clearly echoing the White House's increasingly 
bellicose language since 11 September, and signals abreakbythePrime 
Minister from traditional Foreign Office caution on the issue." 
Independent (8 April 2002). 

35. Financial Times (14 February 2002). 

36. Independent (1 May 1991), p. 8. Funds were released eventually. 

37. Middle East Economic Survey (13 May 1991), p. CI. 

38. Cited in Graham-Brown, Sanctioning Saddam, p. 20. 

39. Guardian (1 May 1991). 

40. Ike limes (28 September 2001), p. 2, reporting an interview on BBC 
News 24. limes journalist Philip Webster comments that this is the 
"first time it has been explicitly admitted." However, the Sunday limes 
reported during the war that "the Americans have established an 
elaborate system to try to track the Iraqi president... so he can be targeted 
in an operation called 'The Yamamoto Option', named after the Japanese 
admiral assassinated by the US during World War II" (1 7 February 
1991), p. 3. For an example of a direct denial by a British minister, see 
Douglas Hogg, then Foreign Office minister, "Saddam's removal is in 
no sense a war aim" {Guardian, 20 February 1991). 

41. Craddock, In Pursuit ofBritish Interests, p. 183. 

42. Cited in Hiro, Neighbors not Friends, p. 1 20. 

43 . Grah am - B ro wn , San ction ing Sa dda m, p . 63. 

44. Friedman, New York limes (7July 1991), Chalabi, March 1991, both cited 
C^) in Noam Chomsky, World Orders, Old and New (New York: Columbia C^) 

University Press, 1994), p. 9. 

45. Cordesman and Hashim, Iraq, pp. 154, 155. 

46. Robert Fisk. "Children starve, Saddam survives," Independent on Sunday 
(8 March 1998). 

47. Cordesman and Hashim, Iraq, p. 1 S9ff. 

48. Ibid., p. 358. 

49. "Report of the second panel established pursuant to the note by the 
president of the Security Council of 30 January 1999 (S/l 999/1 00), 
concerning the current humanitarian situation in Iraq, Annex II of 
S/l 999/356, 30 March 1999". More commonly referred to as the 
"Humanitarian Panel report," this document can be found via an entry 
for 7 April 1991 on the official UN Office of the Iraq Program chronology 

50. Reuters (20 March 2001). 

51. "Open Letter to the Security Council Concerning the Humanitarian 
Situation in Iraq," from Global Policy Forum, Mennonite Central 
Committee, Peace Action Education Fund, Quaker United Nations 
Office, Human Rights Watch and Save the Children (UK), 22 March 
2000. A copy is incorporated into a Human Rights Watch press release 

52. Reuters (2 August 2000). 

53. Reuters (18 August 2000). 

54. Ihe Economist (8 April 2000). 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 111 

55. Report by a group of Anglican Bishops and others, "Conclusions of an 
Anglican visit to Iraq, 3 to 10 May 1999. "This document informed the 
report "Iraq: a decade of sanctions/' by the International and 
Development Affairs Committee of the Church of England's Board for 
Social Responsibility, which is available on the Campaign Against 
Sanctions on Iraq website at 
chu rch en g/c o f e july 2 00 . p d f . 

56. CAFOD press release, 6 February 2001. Julian Filochowski repeated his 
words in a subsequent statement, "CAFOD calls for new consensus on 
sanctions on Iraq/' which can be found at 
news/iraq2001 0604.shtml. 

5 7. Observer (1 9 November 2000). 

58. "Iraq: call to end non-military sanctions/' BBC News Online, IS 
September 2000 

59. Second Report of the International Development Committee, Session 
1999-2000, "The Future of Sanctions", HC 67 (10 February 2000), 
Executive Summary. 

60. Samir Al-Khalil. Republic of Fear: Ihe Inside Story of Saddam's Iraq (London: 
Century Hutchinson, 1990), pp. 93 f. Al-Khalil was a pseudonym, 
dropped from later editions. 

61. Stephen Glain. "Saddam the Builder/' Newsweek (11 March 2002), p. 28. 

62. Ibid., p. 29. 

63. Cordesman and Hashim, Iraq, p. 127. 

64. Ibid., p. 144. 
C^) 65. Hoskins, "Humanitarian Impacts", p. 92. C^) 

66. Ibid., p. 92. 

67. UNESCO. "The Education Sector: Pre-sanctions to 1995/96/' in UN 
Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. Special Tcpics on social 
conditions in Iraq: An overview submitted by the UN system to the Security 
Council Panel on Humanitarian Issues (Baghdad, 24 March 1999) 
(hereafter, "UNOHCI, Special Topics"). A scanned version of this 
document is available on the CASI 

68. Hoskins, "Humanitarian Impacts", p. 92. 

69. UNICEF, 1 999 Iraq Child and Maternal Mortality Surveys, home page The table of under- five and under- 
one mortality rates is taken from 

70. Peter Boone, Haris Gazdar, Althar Hussain. Sanctions against Iraq: Costs 
of Failure (New York: CESR, November 1997), p. 33. 

71. UNICEF press release, "Iraq surveys show 'humanitarian emergency/" 
12 August 1999, (CF/DOC/PR/1 999/29) available at 
newslineZ99pr29.htm. The cumulative mortality estimate is available As we see from Table 3.1, 
the under-five mortality rate declined quickly and smoothly over the 
period 1960 to 1990. UNICEF observes: "If this mortality rate trend had 
continued through the 1990s, the rate would have been around 30 per 
1000 live births in 1999. However, the latest surveys show that the 
actual mortality rate in 1999 is around 130." The mortality estimate 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 


112 Iraq 

is derived by estimating the excess of actual over potential deaths in 
each of the eight years under consideration. 

72. UNICEF press release. "Iraq surveys show 'humanitarian emergency/" 
12 August 1999, citing "Report of the second panel established pursuant 
to thenote by the president of the Security Council of 30 January 1999 
(S/l 999/1 00), concerning the current humanitarian situation in Iraq, 
Annex II of S/l 999/356, 30 March 1999/' 

73. Cited in CESR. UNsanctioned Suffering, p. 10. 

74. UNICEF. "Stunting linked to impaired intellectual development/' 
available at For further clarifica- 
tion regarding different measures of malnutrition, please see 
w w w.unicef . org/bosni a/English /mi cs_cm.htm. 

75. See Table 4.2 in Hoskins. "Humanitarian Impacts/' p. 115, for the 
results of the 1ST and other 1991 surveys. 

76. UNICEF press release. "Child malnutrition prevalent in central/south 
Iraq/' 29 May 1997(CF/DOC/PR/1997/17), 
newsline/prgval 1 .htm. 

77. UNICEF press release. "Nearly one million children malnourished in 
Iraq/' says UNICEF, 26 November 1997 (CF/DOC/PR/ 1997/60), available 

78. UNICEF. Situation Analysis in South-Center Iraq (2000) available at 

79. UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Assessment of the Food and 
Nutrition Situation -Iraq (Rome, September 2000), p. 17, available from 
www. f ao. org/es/esn/assess.htm. 

-£ ^— 80. Ro d No rdlan d . " San cti on in g Star vati on ? An Oil f o r Fo o d tr ad e p ro gram — £ ^- 

has helped Iraq, but many of the country's children are still going 
hungry/' Newsweek Web exclusive, 28 July 2000. 

81. Cordesman and Hashim. Iraq, pp. 141, 144, 127. For more on the 
psycho-social impact, see UNOHCI, Special Tcpics. 

82. Richard Garfield. "Changes in health and well-being in Iraq during 
the 1990s: what do we know and how do we know it?/' in Campaign 
Against Sanctions on Iraq. Sanctions on Iraq: background, consequences, 
strategies (Cambridge: CASI, 2000), p. 47. The UN has a lower figure 
for literacy after a decade of sanctions: 53. 7percent. Human Develcpment 
Report 2000 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.00.III.B.8). 

83. CESR, UNsanctioned suffering, pp. 34, 36. 

84. Ibid., p. 38. 

85. Ibid., p. 39. 

86. Working Paper by Marc Bossuyt, prepared for the Sub-Commission on 
the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (UN Commission on 
Human Rights). "The adverse consequences of economic sanctions on 
the enjoyment of human rights" (21 June 2000) E/CN.4/Sub. 2/2000/33. 
The report is available at 
nsf /(Symbol) /E.CN. 4. Sub.2. 2000. 33. En? Op en document. 

87. Roger Normand. "Sanctions against Iraq: New Weapon of Mass 
Destruction/' Covert Action Quarterly (Spring 1998), p. 5. 

88. Boone, Gazdar and Hussain. Sanctions against Iraq, pp. 2, 7, lOff. 

89. Ibid., p. 12. 


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British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 113 


90. CESR. Unsanctioned suffering, -p. 8. 

91. Hoskins. "Humanitarian Impacts", p. 107. 

92. Ibid., pp. 107, 108. 

93. Boone, Gazdar and Hussain. Sanctions against Iraq, p. 12. 

94. Ibid., p. 13. 

95 . Jean D reze and Haris Gazdar. Hunger and Poverty in Iraq, 199 1 (London: 
LSE, 1991), p. S2ff. 

96. Dreze and Gazdar. Hunger and Poverty, p. S3. 

97. Boone, Gazdar and Hussain. Sanctions against Iraq, p. 3. 

98. Cordesman and Hashim. Iraq, p. 142. 

99. UN World Food Program. "Destitution", in UNOHCI, Special Tcpics. 
FPPI estimates from Food and Agriculture Organization, Evaluation of 
food &■ nutrition in Iraq (Rome, 1995). It is not clear whether the 
Government of Iraq food ration was included in the FPPI estimates. 

100. Hoskins. "Humanitarian Impacts", p. 129. Dilip Hiro cites alower figure 
for the Arab Monetary Fund - $190 billion - perhaps this excludes 
private economic assets. Hiro, Neighbors not Friends, p. 34. 

101. Hoskins. "Humanitarian Impacts", p. 129. 

102. Ibid., pp. 136, 137. 

103. UNDP, "Poverty Trends: A Review by UNDP," m UNOHCI, Special Tcpics. 

104. Report of the Secretary- General pursuant to Paragraph 5 of Resolution 
1302 (2000) S/2000/1132 (29 November 2000), Paragraph 89. 

105. Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Paragraph 5 of Resolution 
1360 (2001) S/2001/919 (28 September 2001), Paragraphs 40, 48. 

106. Robert Fisk. "The in-tray that holds horrors of deprivation," Independent 
(6 March 1998). 

107. Hoskins. "Humanitarian Impacts", p. 106. 

108. Cited in Normand. "Sanctions against Iraq", p. 5. 

109. Ibid. 

110. Hoskins. "Humanitarian Impacts", p. 121. 

111. UNICEF, Situation Analysis in South-Center Iraq (2000) available at 

112. Cordesman and Hashim. Iraq, p. 136. 

113. Hoskins. "Humanitarian Impacts", p. 136. 

114. Ibid. 

115. Cordesman and Hashim. Iraq, pp. 137, 139. 

116. Jhe Economist (26 May 2001). 

117. Financial limes (28 May 2001). 

118. Jhe Economist (24 February 2001). 

119. Humanitarian Panel report, para. 58. The full sentence reads as follows: 
"In presenting the above recommendations to the Security Council, 
the panel reiterates its understanding that the humanitarian situation 
in Iraq will continue to be a dire one in the absence of a sustained 
revival of the Iraqi economy, which in turn cannot be achieved solely 
through remedial humanitarian efforts." This document can be found 
via an entry for 7 April 1991 on the official UN Office of the Iraq 
Program chronology at 

120. Financial limes (1 June 2001). 



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114 Iraq 

121. "Letter dated 20 March 1991 from the Secretary- General addressed to 
the President of the Security Council/' S/22366 (20 March 1991), 
available at 

122. Graham-Brown. Sanctioning Saddam, pp. 72, 286. 

123. UN press release. "Secretary-General approves telecommunications in 
Distribution Plan" at 
with links to the letter itself. 

124. Cordesman and Hashim. Iraq, p. 147. 

125. Graham-Brown. Sanctioning Saddam, p. 74ff. 

126. Cited in ibid., p. 75. 

127. James Fine. "The Iraq Sanctions Catastrophe/' Middle East Report, 
January-February 1992. 

128. Graham-Brown. Sanctioning Saddam, p. 77. 

129. Boone, Gazdar and Hussain. Sanctions against Iraq, p. 38. 

130. Graham-Brown. Sanctioning Saddam, p. 81. 

131. Hiro. Neighbors not Friends, p. 51. 

132. James Fine. "Iraq Sanctions Catastrophe". 

133. Ibid. 

134. Sarah Helms. "Pressure mounts for flexibility over aid to Iraq/' 
Independent (22 November 1991). 

135. Graham-Brown. Sanctioning Saddam, p. 74. 

136. Hoskins. "Humanitarian Impacts", p. 120. 

137. Graham-Brown. Sanctioning Saddam, p. 75. 

138. Ibid., p. 83. 

139. Ibid., p. 76. 
-0- 140. Ibid., p. Slff. -0- 

141. Ibid., p. 78. 

142. Ibid., p. 82. 

143. Ibid., p. 83. 

144. Maggie O'Kane. "The Wake of War", Guardian (18 May 1996), cited in 
Geoff Simons. Scowging of Iraq, p. 234. 

145. Graham-Brown. Sanctioning Saddam, p. 284. 

146. Ibid., p. 83. 

147. Patrick Cockbum. Independent (25 April 1998). 

148. "Open Letter to the Security Council Concerning the Humanitarian 
Situation in Iraq", as above, available at 

149. Cited in Cordesman and Hashim. Iraq, p. 140. 

150. Interview with author, Baghdad, 12June 2001. 

151. Human Rights Watch press release, "Groups Call on Security Council 
to Address Iraq Humanitarian Crisis," 4 August 2000, available at 

152. Humanitarian Panel report, para. 58. See note 119 for the full text. 

153. Graham-Brown. Sanctioning Saddam, p. 7Gff. Graham-Brown goes on 
to note that "the lack of access to the Council's discussions makes it 
very difficult to either substantiate or discount any specific allegation." 

154. Ibid., p. 71. 

155. Financial limes (17 December 1998). Note that "in his report to the UN, 
Mr Butler conceded, 'In statistical terms, the majority of the inspections 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 


British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 115 

of facilities and sites under the ongoing monitoring system were carried 
out with Iraq's cooperation"' (Ihe limes, 22 December 1998). Russian 
ambassador to the UN, Sergei Lavrov, "said the report's conclusion was 
biased, and he echoed Iraq's contention that Butler had only cited five 
incidents in 300 inspection operations" over the previous month (AP, 
17 December 1998) One crucial incident, on 9 December, was the 
refusal of entry to 12 UNSCOM inspectors at a Ba'ath Party regional 
headquarters in Baghdad - not a weapons factory, an event later 
described by the Sunday limes as "a decisive moment in the Iraqi leader's 
war of attrition with the West" (20 December 1998, p. 1.15). A declas- 
sified section of the Butler report "included the disclosure that 
dismantled missiles were being stored in wooden boxes hidden 
underground at the Baath party offices on the outskirts of 
Baghdad. ..concealed in a cellar below a shed normally used to house 
uniforms." The Butler report states that "during the last months of 
1997" the Iraqis moved the "sensitive military material by night to a 
large shed within the compound of the offices of the Aadhamiyya 
district of the city (Ike limes, 17 December 1998). Note that the 
information used by the inspectors was, even if correct, a year old. 
Scott Ritter, who resigned as UNSCOM inspector because he felt the 
West was trying to rein in UNSCOM, claims: "Butler wrote that he had 
solid evidence of 'proscribed materials'at the Ba'ath headquarters. I 
believe from my sources that is not true" {Mail on Sunday, 20 December 
1998). At the time, the turning away of the inspectors was reported 
simply as Iraqi defiance. The true story was much more complex, 
C^) however. C^) 

Th e FT rep orted th at in specto rs w ere tu m ed aw ay "bee au se mo d aliti es 
for inspections agreed in 1996 stipulated that a limited number of 
inspectors would enter such sensitive sites". Butler argued, on the other 
hand, that "these modalities had been revised in subsequent discussions 
with Iraqi officials." The FT concluded by quoting an unnamed "senior 
Western diplomat" in Baghdad: "the revised modalities for inspecting 
sensitive sites, and allowing more inspectors to enter, had been targeted 
at large military installations, whereas the Baath party building over 
which Iraq and inspectors clashed was located in a Baghdad house" 
(1 7 December 1998, p. 8). The Guardian reported: "In the December 9 
run-in, Iraqi officials allowed four inspectors to tour the site's yard" 
(where the vital shed was located) in accordance with the 1996 
agreement (16 December 1998, p. 14). The Iraqis appear tohave observed 
the correct procedure in relation to sensitive sites other than large 
military installations. There may well have been a genuine disagree- 
ment over which arrangements applied to inspections of the 
headquarters complex, a disagreement which ought to have been 
clarified and negotiated between the Security Council and Baghdad. 
This crucial incident was portrayed as a straightforward case of defiance 
and noncompliance, when, in fact, it was anything but straightfor- 
ward, and a neutral Western diplomat is reported to have believed that 
the Iraqis had some arguments on their side. 
156. Financial limes (12 November 1998). 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 


116 Iraq 

157. Financial Times (2 November 1998). 

158. Ihe Economist (7 November 1998). 

159. Independent (13 November 1998). 

160. William Arkin, an influential US military commentator, has suggested 
that the bombing raids were actually targeted at the regime's internal 
security apparatus, "using the intelligence gathered [secretly] through 
UNSCOM". William Arkin, Washington Post, 17 January 1999, cited in 
Graham-Brown. Sanctioning Saddam, p. 1 03 n. 

161. Resolution available at 

162. CNN. "French propose new Iraqi inspection program, end of oil 
embargo/' 13 January 1999, 

163. Ihe limes, web version (14 January 1999). 

164. Washington Post (15 January 1999). 

165. Hoskins. "Humanitarian Impacts", p. 105. 

166. Graham-Brown. Sanctioning Saddam, p. 71. 

167. "Alb ri ght's Tin y Co f f in s " . Coun teipun ch, 1 No vemb er 1999. 

168. "Report of the Secretary- General pursuant to paragraph 5 of resolution 
1302 (2000)" (8 September 2000) S/2000/857, para 31. Report available 

169. "Report of the Secretary- General pursuant to paragraph 5 of Security 
Council resolution 1281 (1999)" (1 June 2000) S/2000/520 para 54. 
Report available at 

Cj 170. Benon Sevan. "Annex Note dated 22 October 1999 addressed to the Cj 

Secretary Generalby the Executive Director of the Iraq Program - Holds 
on applications" (S/1999/1086). Available at < 
oip /background /reports /si 999-1086.pdf. 

171. "Introductory statement by Benon V. Sevan Executive Director of the 
Iraq Program at the informal consultation of the Security Council 
Thursday, 21 September 2000", available at 
b ackgr oun d /latest/b vs 00 09 2 1 . html. 

1 72. "Report of the Secretary- General pursuant to paragraph 5 of resolution 
1360 (2001 )" (1 9 November 2001 ), S/2001 /l 089, para 65, available at 

173. Edith Lederer (Associated Press). "UN Votes To Return Iraq" (18 
December 1998). 

174. BBC News Online. "Iraq spurns Anglo-Dutch offer" (30 May 1999), 

175. Draft Anglo-Dutch resolution available from CASI site at 
w w w. cam. o/uk- dutch, html. 

176. Hiro, Neighbors, not friends, p. 181. 

177. Reuters. "US Says UN Vote Adds Legitimacy to Iraq Embargo" (19 
December 1999). 

178. Richard Beeston. "Sanctions on Iraq 'could go in six months/" The 
limes (20 November 2000). 


Ismael 01 intro 6/10/03 16:55 Page 


British Policy Towards Economic Sanctions on Iraq, 1990-2002 117 

179. BBC News Online. "UK conciliatory over Iraq embargo" (20 November 
2000), available at 
newsid_l 03 2000/1032423. stm. 

180. UPI (29 November 2000). 

181. UPI (20 November 2000). 

182. ReliefWeb website, Christian Science Monitor (1 March 2000). 

183. Guardian website (1 1 November 2000). 

184. Daily Telegraph (1 7 February 2001), p. 21. 

185. Sundaylimes (18 February 2001), p. 18. 

186. Independent (17 February 2001), p. 1. 

187. Deutsche Presse-Agentur report (23 February 2001). 

188. Financial limes (28 May 2001). 

189. See Richard Butler. Saddam Defiant: The Threat of Weapons of Mass 
Destruction, and the Crisis of Global Security (London: Phoenix, 2001), 
p. 224, for details of the encounter with the US Ambassador to the UN, 
Peter Burleigh, that led to the immediate withdrawal of UNSCOM 
officials from Iraq. P. 202 gives details of the earlier meeting with 
Burleigh which precipitated Butler's first order to UNSCOM to withdraw. 

190. Letter from Brian Wilson to Paul Keetch MP, dated 4 June 2001. 

^ -0- 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


4 Oil, Sanctions, Debt 
and the Future 

Abbas Alnasrawi 

Looking at the world map of oil we find certain facts that have shaped 
the history of Iraq and its regional context and will continue to do 
so for a long time to come. At the end of 1999 world oil reserves 
amounted to 1033 billion barrels of oil, with two-thirds of these 
reserves to be found in five countries (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait 
and the United Arab Emirates). Similarly, in that year these countries 
were responsible for nearly one-third of the world's oil production 
of 72 million barrels per day (mbd) and over 40 percent of the world's 
oil exports of 41 mbd. In relation to the Organization of Petroleum 
Exporting Countries (OPEC), these countries command more than 
four-fifths of the organization's reserves and two-thirds of its output 
and exports. Therefore, what happens to the oil industry in any one 
of these countries will affect the fortunes of its neighboring countries. 
-\y- Moreover, the high degree of concentration of oil reserves, output -Q- 

and exports in these five countries makes them a constant target of 
outside power machination and interference. Additionally, it is 
recognized that the oil sectors in these five countries have until 
recently been under the direct control of a handful of multinational 
oil corporations (BP, Exxon, Shell, Texaco, Gulf, etc.). 

This chapter will attempt to deal with six topics: (1) historical 
background; (2) oil and the Iraqi economy; (3) the Iraq-Iran war; (4) 
the invasion of Kuwait; (5) the United Nations sanctions regime; and 
(6) Iraq's foreign debt. 1 will conclude with some speculative thoughts 
on the future of the Iraqi economy. 


The home governments of multinational oil corporations (US, UK, 
Erance) have all played significant roles in enabling their companies 
to acquire oil concessions, to penetrate markets and to deal with the 
governments of oil-producing countries. Depending on the situation 
and the historical context, these governments have at times 
cooperated with each other and at times opposed one another. In the 



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Oil, Sanctions, Debt and the Future 119 

case of the United States, evidence of the close relationship between 
the US-based oil multinational corporations (MNCs) and the US 
government is abundant and goes back to the early part of the 
twentieth century. 

During World War 11, and because of the war conditions, American 
oil companies could not produce enough oil to provide the funds 
promised to the Saudi government. Instead, these companies were 
able to persuade the Roosevelt administration to provide these funds 
in order to not jeopardize the oil concession. The American President 
solved the problem in 1943 by stating to the administrator of the Lend- 
Lease program that: "in order to enable you to arrange Lend-Lease 
aid to the government of Saudi Arabia,! hereby find that the defense 
of Saudi Arabia is vital to the defense of the United States/' 1 

Following World War 11, Secretary of State Dean Acheson instructed 
the Economic Cooperation Administration, or the Marshall Plan, 
that "in every petroleum transaction an American company must be 
involved" and "deliveries [of oil] from sources other than the United 
States and possessions will be eligible only if made by American 
owned and operated companies/' 2 

The policy of insisting that American companies be the ones to 
sell oil to Europe was most conducive to the MNCs' plans to expand 
-^3~ ou output in the Middle East for their operations in Europe. Again, ~^y~ 

following the nationalization of BP operations in Iran, the State 
Department, in cooperation with the British government (following 
the 1953 overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammed 
Mossadegh), was instrumental in finding the solution which 
introduced American companies to Iran's oil and reintroduced that 
oil to the world market. 

In 1958, when the monarchy in Iraq was overthrown, the US 
government gave strong consideration to military intervention to 
undo the revolution. The intervention could not be justified as long 
as the new government respected Western oil interests, which it did. 
This near intervention led at least one observer to note that gunboat 
diplomacy was clearly in line with the State Department commitment 
to pipelines and profits. 

In the early 1970s, the US government provided legal dispensation 
to oil companies in order to enable them to enter into collective 
negotiations with OPEC over prices. One does not have to review the 
whole record to establish the interest in and the commitment of the 
US government to oil issues. This relationship was assessed by the 
US Senate Subcommittee on Multinational Corporations, a division 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


120 Iraq 

of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, in a 1975 study in 
which it said that the oil companies administered the system of 
allocating output between oil producing countries with the assistance 
of the US government. The system was premised on two basic 
assumptions: (1) that the companies were instruments of US foreign 
policy; and (2) that the interests of the companies were basically 
identical with US national interests. The US foreign policy objectives 
were identified to be: (1) that the United States provide a steady 
supply of oil to Europe and Japan at reasonable prices for economic 
recovery and sustained economic growth; (2) that stable governments 
be maintained in pro-Western oil producing countries; and (3) that 
American-based firms be a dominant force in the world oil trade. 3 

Again in the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s, working through 
Saudi Arabia, the US government ensured that OPEC oil supplies 
were at such levels as to keep prices from either skyrocketing or 
collapsing. Thus, in its study, Ihe Changing Structure of the International 
Oil Market, the General Accounting Office of the United States 
Congress described the policy coordination between the two 
governments in these terms: 

To achieve the US objective of access to adequate supplies at 
-^3~ "reasonable prices/' the United States uses its bilateral relation- ~^y~ 

ships with friendly producers in an attempt to influence their 
pricing and production decision. This is especially apparent with 
Saudi Arabia with which. ..the United States has a "very active" 
bilateral policy. Frequent visits by cabinet-level officials including 
the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, and Energy during the 
past several years illustrate this bilateralism. 4 

In the 1990s the US government and its allies went to war in order 
to keep oil from falling into unfriendly hands. 


Statistically, one way to measure the relative importance of oil in the 
Iraqi economy is to trace the behavior of oil revenue. In 1960 Iraq's 
oil income was $266 million and rose to $521 million in 1970. 
However, the extraordinary developments of the 1970s such as the 
phenomenal, OPEC-led rise in oil prices, the nationalization of the 
oil sector, the Iranian revolution and the continued rise in exports 
pushed Iraq's oil income from $1 billion in 1971 to $26.1 billion in 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Oil, Sanctions, Debt and the Future 121 

1980. With such a rise in income there was an associated increase in 
the relative importance of the oil sector from a mere 3 percent of GDP 
in 1950 to 56 percent in 1980. This meant that Iraq's dependence on 
oil became irreversible. 

What does it mean to be an oil-based or an oil-dependent economy? 
It means among other things the following: 

* Economic activity, employment and income are determined 
by the amount of oil revenue the economy receives from selling 
its oil abroad. In other words people's livelihood and economic 
security become highly dependent on what happens to the 
world oil market. 

* Oil revenue becomes the foundation of the state in that oil 
income, which flows into state coffers, becomes its primary 
source of revenue instead of tax revenue. The state now can 
use its newly found source of income and power as it pleases: 
to build its armed forces and security organizations, to provide 
social services, to expand the civil service, to distribute funds 
to its favorite groups and regions of the country and to wage 

sT\ * Oil also becomes the main source of funds for investment in /Tn 

industry, agriculture, health and education and the nation's v 


* Oil revenue enables the state to break its financial dependence 
on its citizens. In other words the state no longer needs its 
citizens to pay taxes to finance its activities. 

It is worth pointing out that the 1970s was Iraq's prosperous decade. 
The spectacular rise in oil revenue made it possible for all economic 
and social indicators to rise at very impressive rates. That performance 
was never to be repeated. The decade of the 1970s also witnessed the 
growth of Iraq's oil industry in all its components, as funds were 
available for investment. This investment was never to be duplicated 
in the next two decades because of the Iraq-Iran war and the UN- 
imposed sanctions following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. An 
oil-dependent country has no control over its oil income, since such 
income is determined by how much it can sell and at what price 
factors, which are determined by forces in the international political 
economy which are beyond the control of any one oil-exporting 
country. This was very clearly the case when Iraq's oil income 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


122 Iraq 

collapsed, first in the context of the Iraq-Iran war, and then in the 
context of the UN sanctions regime. 

In the 1980s several market factors, such as the stagnant conditions 
of the world economy, the success of energy conservation measures 
and the emergence of new oil exporting regions had a depressing 
effect on OPEC's and Iraq's oil fortunes. The problem for Iraq was 
compounded by the devastation of the Iraq-Iran war, which resulted 
in a sharp decline in the contribution of the oil sector from 56 percent 
of GDP in 1980 to 23 percent in 1989. For the first few years of the 
1990s this contribution declined to some 4-5 percent as Iraq ceased 
to be an oil exporting country. 


When the government of Iraq decided to launch its war against Iran 
in September 1980, the Iraqi economy was on the threshold of another 
decade of economic growth. The immense increase in oil revenue 
mentioned earlier had made it possible for the government simulta- 
neously to increase spending on the infrastructure, the bureaucracy, 
goods-producing sectors, social services, foreign assistance, imports, 
A\ and the military. In addition, it was in a position to have a balance A\ 

v of payments surplus and thus to accumulate unprecedented levels v 

of foreign reserves. However, the war-caused destruction and the 
closure of oil facilities led oil output, export and revenue to decline 
very sharply- by 60 percent between 1980 and 1981. 

In a country that had grown dependent on a single export these 
external shocks forced the economy to cope with a number of serious 
problems, some of which had become structural. Among such 
problems were the following: 

* Iraq's major oil exporting capacity was either destroyed, blocked 
or closed; 

* Iraq's heavy industries were destroyed or in need of major repair; 

* the infrastructure was extensively damaged; 

* a major segment of the labor force (one-fifth) was in the armed 

* agricultural and industrial growth was either stagnant or 

* rural workers had either been drafted into the army or drifted 
to the city; 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Oil, Sanctions, Debt and the Future 123 

* the large number of foreign workers imported during the war 
had become a burden on the economy; 

* dependence on food imports increased; 

* inflation became a structural problem; 

* privatization was not succeeding according to expectation; 

* Iraq became a major debtor country; 

* levels of imports declined; 

* development spending virtually ceased; and 

* the higher living standards which were promised during the war 
could not be delivered in the post-war period. 

In short, the government's big gamble of winning a quick victory 
over Iran led the economy to a dead end with no prospect for recovery. 
What staved off total economic collapse was the pumping-in of funds 
and credit by the Gulf states, the Organization for Economic 
Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the former Soviet Union. 3 


One of the most significant changes to take place in the Iraqi economy 
in the decades of the 1970s and the 1980s was the massive shift of 
-^3~ labor from the civilian economy to the military and the sharp increase ~^y~ 

in military spending and military imports. In 1975 Iraq had 3 percent 
of its labor force in the armed forces. By the time the war with Iran 
ended in 1988 the government was employing more than 21 percent 
of the labor force, or 1 million persons, in the armed forces. 

The other side of this expansion in the armed forces was the sharp 
rise of the military's claims on Iraq's fiscal resources. Thus, in 1970 
the government spent less than $1 billion on the military, or 19 percent 
of the GDP - a high ratio by world standards. By 1 980, the government 
raised military spending to $12.1 billion, or nearly 23 percent of GDP. 
The share of military spending, which amounted to $111 billion 
during the period 1981-88 was 40 percent of that period's GDP. 

Another way of looking at the burden of military spending is to 
relate it to Iraq's oil revenue. During the eight-year period 1981-88, 
military spending, which amounted to $111 billion, was 154 percent 
ofthesameperiod's oil revenue of $72 billion. According to the Iraqi 
president, the country imported and used $102 billion of foreign 
military equipment during the Iraq- Iran war. This bankrupting effect 
of the war explains why Iraq had to exhaust its external reserves, 
increase its foreign debt and suppliers' credit, resort to international 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

124 Iraq 

borrowing, accept grants from Gulf states, abandon its development 
plans, and reduce imports and social services. 


Iraq entered the post-war period with a smaller and disorganized 
economy that was overburdened with unemployment, inflation and 
foreign debt. To cope with the economic crisis, and to also fund an 
ambitious program of military industrialization, the government had 
to rely on a shrinking source of oil revenue, which in 1988 generated 
only $11 billion compared to $26 billion in 1980. 

The exhausted state of the economy was made worse by the 9 
percent decline in GDP in 1989 over 1988 - a decline that constituted 
a severe blow to the government and forced it to adopt an austerity 
program of spending. However, to reduce government spending in 
a period of severe economic crisis had the effect of worsening the crisis. 
What the economy needed at that particular juncture was an increase 
in the supply of goods to dampen inflation and restore some of the 
living standards that were severely eroded during the war. In order 
to achieve these objectives the government had only one option - 
to raise oil revenue; and it was in this particular arena that the stage 
-^3~ was set f° r l^q's conflict with Kuwait. ~^y~ 

The collapse of the price of crude oil in the mid-1980s persuaded 
OPEC member countries to agree in October 1986 to return to their 
system of quotas and to set the price at $18 per barrel, a price that 
they deemed to be necessary for their economic and social 
development. Yet several countries, especially Kuwait and the United 
Arab Emirates, chose not to comply with their quotas, thus forcing 
the price to decline to $12 per barrel by October 1988. Although 
market conditions improved, causing the price to reach $20 per barrel 
in January 1990, Kuwait and other non-complying OPEC countries 
decided to raise their output to such a level that the price declined 
by one-third by June 1990 -a decline that wiped out a major portion 
of the oil income of Iraq and other OPEC countries. In the case of Iraq, 
a decline in the price of $6 per barrel meant a reduction of $6 billion 
in oil revenue per year, a loss that Iraq could not afford. The Iraqi 
president characterized oil actions leading to above-quota production 
and lower prices as causing damage to the Iraqi economy that was 
similar to the economic damage inflicted by conventional wars. 6 

In addition to the issue of oil production and prices, Iraq accused 
Kuwait of using diagonal drilling to pump oil from that part of the 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Oil, Sanctions, Debt and the Future 125 

Rumaila oil field that was located inside Iraqi territory. On 1 7 July 
1990 the Iraqi president accused rulers of the Gulf states of being 
tools in an international campaign to halt Iraq's scientific and tech- 
nological progress and to impoverish its people. On 27 July 1990 and 
in the shadow of Iraqi troop movements along the Iraq-Kuwait border, 
OPEC decided to raise the reference price of oil from $18 to $21 per 
barrel and adopt new quotas. But on 2 August 1990, the government 
of Iraq decided to invade and occupy Kuwait. 

The invasion of Kuwait was looked at as a quick solution to Iraq's 
economic crisis and to the regime's failure to improve living standards. 
This policy decision was articulated by the deputy prime minister of 
the economy who stated that Iraq would be able to pay its debt in 
less than five years; that the "new Iraq" would have a much higher 
oil production quota; that its income from oil would rise to $38 
billion; and that it would be able vastly to increase spending on 
development projects and imports. 7 

The invasion of Kuwait prompted the United Nations Security 
Council, under the leadership of the United States, to vote on 6 
August 1990 to adopt United Nations Security Council Resolution 
(UNSCR) 661 , which imposed a sweeping and comprehensive system 
of sanctions on Iraq which is still in effect. 


The centerpiece of the 1990 sanctions system was UNSCR 661. This 
resolution and subsequent sanctions resolutions created a set of 
conditions which virtually cut off Iraq from the world economy. The 
sanctions regime included a ban on all imports enforced by a naval 
and air blockade, an oil embargo, a freezing of Iraqi government 
financial assets abroad, an arms embargo, suspension of international 
flights, and a prohibition on financial transactions with Iraq. The 
UNSC also called upon member states to enforce naval and air 
blockades against Iraq. All shipping on the Shatt al-Arab waterway 
in the south of Iraq was intercepted and all vessels approaching the 
Jordanian port of Aqaba were boarded and inspected. 8 In short, the 
embargo was intended to prevent anything from getting into or out 
of Iraq. The embargo appeared to support the contention that the 
Security Council was using famine and starvation as potential weapons 
to force Iraq into submission. 9 

Given Iraq's utter dependence on oil exports and commodity 
imports, it was not surprising that the embargo succeeded in shutting 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


126 Iraq 

off 90 percent of Iraq's imports and 97 percent of its exports and 
produced serious disruptions to the economy and hardships to the 
people. Needless to say, these disruptions were aggravated and 
magnified in the aftermath of the bombing of Iraq's infrastructure. 
The vast scale of destruction, which has virtually set the economy 
back to nineteenth -century status, should not be surprising in light 
of the fact that the initial plan of bombing which had focused on 84 
targets was expanded in the course of the war to include 723 targets. 10 

Between the August 1990 imposition of the UN sanctions and the 
December 1996 resumption of oil sales, the Iraqi people endured 
conditions of poverty, disease, economic underdevelopment, social 
disintegration, and levels of emigration, unemployment, and school 
dropout rates described by some as genocidal; conditions that have 
been maintained to this day. 

What about oil under the conditions of sanctions? Oil became the 
focus of attention of both the government of Iraq and the United 
Nations for different considerations. For Iraq, oil is the foundation 
of the country's economy and livelihood as well as the state's basis 
for survival, power and rule. For the United Nations, Iraq's oil is an 
instrument to be used to enforce its decisions and implement its 
resolutions from border demarcation to making payments to war 
Xy victims, as well as divesting Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and ~x3~ 

monitoring future developments in the country. In other words, by 
regulating Iraq's oil sales and Iraq's commodity imports, the United 
Nations sought to control the government's room to maneuver. This 
has been the posture the UN has taken from the time Security Council 
Resolution 687- the ceasefire resolution -was passed in April 1991. 

Oil has played a central role in all that has taken place between 
the United Nations and the government of Iraq since the imposition 
of sanctions. To begin with, Resolution 687 empowered the Sanctions 
Committee to approve the financial transactions necessary to provide 
adequate funding for the importation of humanitarian supplies into 
Iraq. The Iraqi government's repeated requests to the Committee that 
it be allowed to sell oil independently of UN controls and to import 
such supplies, were denied. It is important to note that prior to its 
adoption of Resolution 687, the UNSC had at its disposal two 
documents regarding conditions in Iraq. The first was the 20 March 
1991 report of the Ahtissari mission which stated: 

I, together with all my colleagues, am convinced that there needs 
to be a major mobilization and movement of resources to deal 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Oil, Sanctions, Debt and the Future 127 

with aspects of this deep crisis in the field of agriculture and food, 
water, sanitation and health.. ..It is unmistakable that the Iraqi 
people may soon face a further imminent catastrophe, which could 
include epidemic and famine, if massive life-supporting needs are 
not rapidly met.. ..Time is short. 11 

The other document was the 22 March Sanctions Committee deter- 
mination which stated: 

In the light of the new information available to it, the Committee 
has decided to make, with immediate effect, a general determina- 
tion that humanitarian circumstances apply with respect to the 
entire civilian population of Iraq in all parts of Iraq's national 
territory. 12 

Since Iraq's foreign held assets were frozen and its oil exports were 
embargoed, the Sanctions Committee's determination proved to be 
of no benefit to the population. 

Then there was the mission led by the Executive Delegate of the 
UN Secretary -General, which submitted its 15 July 1991 report on 
humanitarian needs in Iraq. The new mission concentrated its work 
-^3~ on f Qtir sectors: food supply, water and sanitation systems, the oil ~^y~ 

sector, and power generation. This mission estimated that the cost 
of rehabilitating these four sectors would be $22.1 billion. 13 

The mission also offered a one-year estimate of the costs based on 
scaled-down goals rather than pre-war standards and came up with 
the figure of $6.8 billion for food imports; power generation; the oil 
sector; health services; water and sanitation; and essential agricultural 
inputs. Aside from the humanitarian merits of the case, the mission 
advanced two other arguments. First, the amount of funds that Iraq 
required to meet its humanitarian needs were simply beyond what 
the international community would be willing to provide. Only Iraq 
had the resources to fund its needs, provided it were to be allowed 
to export its oil. Second, Iraq should not have to compete for scarce 
aid funds with a famine-ravaged Horn of Africa and a cyclone-hit 

In August/September 1991 the UNSC finally relented and passed 
Resolutions 706 and 712 which authorized the sale of oil in the amount 
of $1.6 billion over six months in order to finance UN operations in 
Iraq, provide financial resources to the Compensation Fund and pay 
oil transit fees to Turkey, leaving only $669 million for Iraq's imports, 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

128 Iraq 

a level of funding which had been described by the UN Secretary- 
General as being $800 million short of the minimum necessary to meet 
Iraq's humanitarian and essential civilian requirements. 

The Iraqi government rejected the 706/712 oil sales schemes on 
the grounds of their restrictive terms, which it considered to be a major 
infringement upon its sovereignty. It is worth noting that the Iraqi 
technocrats who were in favor of oil export resumption argued that 
the restrictive conditions were bound to be relaxed and that it would 
be in Iraq's long-term interest to re-establish its position in the world 
oil market and that the initial oil sales would give a much needed 
boost to the faltering economy and the collapsing Iraqi currency. 

Policy-makers in Iraq, however, did not share these views since 
the thrust of Iraqi government policy was to strive for the total 
lifting of the sanctions rather than their partial relaxation. This can 
be seen in the position that the Iraqi president stated in October 1991 
when he announced that "it should be clear that Iraq could live 
under sanctions for 10 to 20 years without asking anything from 
anyone/' 14 Again, in 1992 Iraq's deputy prime minister told the 
UNSC that Iraq was ready to hold talks with the UN for the purpose 
of resuming oil exports, provided such sales were not governed by 
any UN resolutions. 13 

-^3~ Although several rounds of negotiations were held between the ~^y~ 

government and the UN, they failed to bridge the gap between the two 
sides and were suspended in 1 993. The failure to implement Resolutions 
706 and 712 meant the continued deteriora tion of the Iraqi economy 
and further decline in the living conditions of the people. 


It was not until April 1995, when the UNSC decided to revisit the 
issue of sanctions, that it adopted Resolution 986 allowing Iraq to 
sell $2 billion-worth of oil in every six-month period to provide more 
resources to the Compensation Fund and to fund various UNSC- 
mandated operations in Iraq as well as to help Iraq purchase civilian 
supplies. Except for the increase in oil income to $2 billion under 
this resolution, the core of the scheme remained the same. The UNSC 
retained for itself the required mechanisms to monitor all oil sales 
and Iraqi government purchases, with all funds moving in and out 
of a UN-administered escrow account. 

With 30 percent of the proceeds to be diverted to the Compensation 
Fund and other deductions to pay for UN operations, Iraq was slated 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Oil, Sanctions, Debt and the Future 129 

to get $1.3 billion every six months to finance its imports. Again, the 
Iraqi government decided to reject UNSCR 986 thereby plunging the 
Iraqi economy into a deeper crisis. The collapse in the value of the 
Iraqi dinar, the resulting hyperinflation, and the further collapse in 
what remained of personal income and purchasing power, not to 
mention the internal political crisis associated with the defection of 
the president's relatives to Jordan, forced the government in January 
1996 to reverse its position and agree to enter into negotiations with 
the UNSC over the implementation of Resolution 986. It took almost 
another year before Iraq's oil was finally exported in December 1996. 
In February 1998 the UNSC decided to raise the ceiling for exports 
from $2 billion to $5.2 billion per six-month phase under UNSCR 
1153, and in December 1999 UNSCR 1284 removed the ceiling on 
oil exports altogether, but kept all other restrictions in place. In 
December 2000, under UNSCR 1330, the share of the Compensation 
Fund in oil revenue was lowered from 30 percent to 25 percent. 

Before leaving the topic of oil and sanctions, a few observations 
regarding investment in the oil industry are in order. Investment in 
the oil industry, like investment in other sectors of the economy, 
was disrupted during the Iraq-Iran war and then came to a halt in 
A\ 1990. The embargo which has been placed on the import of necessary A\ 

v equipment and spare parts and which threatened the long-term v 

prospects of the industry was finally acknowledged in 1998 when a 
group of oil experts was sent by the UN Secretary-General to study 
the conditions of the oil industry in Iraq. The March 1998 report of 
the mission concluded that the industry was in a "lamentable state/' 
Following this group of experts' report, the UNSC adopted Resolution 
1 1 75 in June 1 998, authorizing for the first time the import of up to 
$300 million, per six-month phase, of equipment and spare parts for 
the oil sector. In January 2000 another group of experts in yet another 
report concluded that the lamentable state of the Iraqi oil industry 
had not improved and that insufficient spare parts and equipment 
had arrived in time to sustain production. In short: 

decline of conditions of all sectors of the oil industry continues, 
and is accelerating in some cases. This trend will continue, and the 
ability of the Iraqi oil industry to sustain the current reduced 
production levels will be seriously compromised, until effective 
action is taken to reverse the situation. 16 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


130 Iraq 

In response to this new report, the UNSC adopted Resolution 1293 
in March 2000, raising the cap on imports for the oil sector to $600 
million per phase. The problem, however, is not with the level of oil 
sector imports, although that is important; it is with the UNSC 
Sanctions Committee's refusal to approve all the contracts which the 
UN Secretary-General had already approved for Iraq's oil sector 
imports. The disruptive impact of withholding approval of such 
contracts was expressed by the Executive Director of the UN Iraq 
Program when he told the Security Council: 

The Council last year doubled the allocation for oil spare parts and 
equipment. This was most welcome for the sector that is the lifeline 
of the humanitarian program. However, that was the end of the 
good news - we continue to experience serious delays and the 
number of holds placed on applications has become unacceptably 
high. On the one hand, everyone is calling on OPEC to increase 
the export of oil. On the other hand, the spare parts and equipment 
that are the minimum requirements of Iraq's oil industry have 
been facing serious obstacles in the Security Council Committee. 17 


In the 1980s, Iraq changed status from a creditor to a debtor country. 
As was noted earlier, the decline in the oil sector and the massive 
financial requirements of the Iraq-Iran war forced this change. 
Additionally, the sanctions imposed since 1990 have denied Iraq the 
opportunity to repay any portion of the debt. In a memorandum to 
the UN Secretary-General dated 29 April 1991, the government of Iraq 
acknowledged that its external debt obligations (installments and 
interest) were projected to be $ 75 .1 billion at the end of 1 995 . 18 This 
figure should be $120 billion by now, assuming an annual interest 
rate of 8 percent. No other debtor country in the world has Iraq's debt 
burden in terms of the relationship of the debt to GDP or to exports. 
It was calculated that with exports of $5. 6 billion and a GDP of $22.3 
billion in 1997, Iraq's debt indicators show that its external debt was 
more than five times its GDP and 21 times its exports. 19 No other 
indebted country comes close to matching Iraq's debt burden. 

Given the many claims on Iraq's financial resources in a post- 
sanctions era it is difficult to see how Iraq will be in a position to pay 
off its tremendous debt load. Indeed, without the cancellation of all 
or most of the debt, its payments will only perpetuate Iraq's economic 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Oil, Sanctions, Debt and the Future 131 

and humanitarian crisis. Needless to say, the burden of compensa- 
tion, if allowed to continue into the future, will greatly complicate 
the tasks of recovery and growth. 


At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Iraq's per capita GDP 
was a small fraction of its level of 20 years earlier. The combined 
impact of the Iraq-Iran War, the Gulf War, the sanctions, its utter 
dependence on the oil sector, and the mismanagement of the 
economy, transformed a once prosperous economy and a vibrant 
society into a destitute society laboring under poverty and despair. 
The country has lost decades of growth and social and economic 
development. In the decade of the 1990s alone, Iraq lost some $140 
billion in oil revenue due to the sanctions. No one can tell, of course, 
when the sanctions will be lifted. But when they are lifted Iraq will 
face a horrendous task. 

Iraq will enter the post-sanctions era with these external claims on 
its financial resources: over $100 billion of foreign debt; over $200 
billion of Gulf War compensation claims; and $100 billion of claims 
by Iran for its war losses. If to this bill of $400 billion we were to add 
-^3~ the replacement cost of infrastructure and other assets destroyed in ~^y~ 

the course of the Gulf War, we would arrive at an astronomical figure 
of financial requirements which is simply beyond the capacity of the 
Iraqi oil sector to generate. The government of Iraq will not be able 
to do much if foreign creditors and war reparations claimants do not 
forgive or adjust downward their claims. Oil, while essential, will be 
of limited assistance because of the magnitude of the financial claims 
on the oil sector. It has been estimated by the Iraqi government's 
own studies that in order to double production capacity to 6 million 
barrels per day (mbd), ten years and $30 billion will be needed. It is 
very difficult to say that sufficient foreign investment will be available 
and if so at what terms. 

Given Iraq's vast low-cost oil reserves and the world oil market's 
need for ever increasing oil supplies, one should not rule out that 
the necessary capital inflow into Iraq's oil industry will not be 
forthcoming. According to recent forecasts, world oil demand will 
be such that Iraq's oil will have to be developed. Thus, according to 
International Energy Agency projections, world oil demand will rise 
from 76 mbd in 1999 to 117 mbd in 2020. To meet such an increase 
in demand, OPEC oil production is projected to increase from 30 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


132 Iraq 

mbd to 58 mbd, while Iraq's output alone is projected to rise from 3 
mbd to 6 mbd during the same period. zo Indeed, it was postulated 
that a totally rehabilitated and sanctions -free Iraq could expand its 
production capacity far beyond 8 mbd, easily reaching 10 mbd, and 
theoretically even 12 mbd under the most favorable conditions. zl 

There is also the important fact that between 1980 and the year 
2000 Iraq's population increased from 13 million to 23 million and 
is projected to be 34 million in the year 2115. In other words, there 
will be an additional 10 million people who need to be housed, fed, 
educated, employed and otherwise cared for at a time of diminishing 
resources and a smaller economic base. This fact gives rise to the 
question of how oil income will be distributed and spent in the post- 
sanctions era. On the face of it, the answer should be clear, since all 
sub-soil minerals in Iraq belong to its people. This means that 
economic and social policies should reflect the preferences of the 
majority. This will require democratic institutions, transparency and 
accountability. This obviously has not been the case during the last 
three decades. The current system is one where public and private 
resources are melded and public office serves as a means for the 
creation of private wealth. 

Given what had taken place in Iraq over the last three decades, a 
Xy complete economic and political overhaul is in order. This overhaul ~x3~ 

is essential for reasons of social and economic justice. There is another 
reason for the change which transcends the question of equity. If 
current institutional mechanisms for the allocation of oil income 
will continue to function in the future then what guarantees are 
there that the destructive adventures of the past will not be repeated 
in the future? 


1. US Congress Seriate Committee on Foreign Relations. Subcommittee on 

Multinational Corporations. Multinational Oil Corporations and USForeign 
Policy (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1975), pp. 37-9. 

2. US Congress. Multinational Oil Corporations and US Foreign Policy, pp. 83-4. 

3. Ibid. 

4. General Accounting Office of the United States Congress. Ihe Changing 
Structure of the International Oil Market (Washington, DC: Government 
Printing Office, 1982), pp. 49-50. 

5. Abbas Alnasrawi. The Economy of Iraq: Oil f Wars, Destruction of Development 
and Prospects, 1950-2010 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994), 
pp. 83-110. 

6. Ibid., pp. 105-18. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Oil, Sanctions, Debt and the Future 133 

7. Ibid. 

8. David Cortright and George A. Lopez. Ihe Sanctions Decade: Assessing UN 
Strategies in the 1990s (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000), 
pp. 39-41. 

9. Lawrence Freedman and Efraim Karsh. The Gulf Conflict 1990-1991: 
Diplomacy and War in the New World Order (Princeton, NJ: Princeton 
University Press, 1994), pp. 191-3. 

10. US Congress. House Armed Services Committee. A Defense for a New Era: 
Lessons of the Persian Gulf War (Washington, DC: Government Printing 
Office, 1992), p. 86. 

11. United Nations. Ihe United Nations and the Iraq-Kuwait Conflict, 1990-1996 
(New York: United Nations, 1996), pp. 186-8. 

12. Ibid., p. 189. 

13. Ibid., pp. 273-9. 

14. Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) (3 May 1991), p. A3. 

15. Ibid. (16 March 1992), p. A4. 

16. United Nations. Report of the Grohp of United Nations Experts Established 
Pursuant to Paragraph 30 of the Security Council Resolution 1284 (1999) 
(New York: United Nations, 2000), p. 4. 

17. B.V. Sevan. "Introductory Statement/ by Benon V. Sevan, Report of the Secretary- 
General Pursuant to Paragraph 5 of Security Council Resolution 1302 (200C) 
of 8 June 2000 (New York: United Nations, 2000), p. 3. 

18. Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) (21 October 1991), pp. D6-9. 

19. W. Elali. "Dealing with Iraq's Foreign Indebtedness/' Thunderbird 
International Business Review. Vol. 42, No. 1 (2000), pp. 65-83, seep. 68. 

-C ^_ 20 . I . Al-Ch alabi . " Futu re Pro sp ects o f I raq 's Oil In du stry, " Middle East Economic —C iX 

Survey (19 February 2001), pp. Dl-7, seep. D6. 
21. F.J. Chalabi. "Iraq and the Future of World Oil/' Middle East Policy. Vol. 7, 
No. 4(2000), pp. 163-73, seep. 163. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


5 Safeguarding "Our" American 
Children by Saving "Their" 
Iraqi Children: Gandhian 
Transformation of the 
DIA ; s Genocide Planning, 
Assessment, and Cover-up 

Thomas J. Nagy 


I have been deeply shaken by my unplanned immersion into the 
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) papers. With the greatest reluctance, 
1 have been forced to conclude that these papers enabled genocide 
-^3~ °f l^qi children through untreated, contaminated water. 1 feel a ~^jr 

strong need to admit my personal misgivings about making the 
charge of genocide and to explain why 1 feel compelled by the evidence 
and my past. 1 have written this chapter only after actively seeking 
credible refutation of my interpretation from the most critical 
academic/military audience 1 could identify - the members of the 
Department of Defense's professional ethics group, thejoint Services 
Conference on Professional Ethics {JSCOPE) and the Association of 
Genocide Scholars. 1 posted Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities 
(1WTV) and my concerns about it to the JSCOPE Internet discussion 
group and presented a paper and organized a panel on 1WTV at two 
JSCOPE conferences. 1 In addition 1 tested my interpretation of the 
implementation of US sanctions policy as genocide at the Conference 
of the Association of Genocide Scholars. 2 Finding some anger and 
some support, but not credible refutation 1 delved deeper. A historical 
analogy introduces my confession. 3 

After struggling to write this chapter, after contending with my own 
fears and doubts, 1 have learned something about the Germans who 
remained silent, and my fellow Americans who continue to remain 
silent, as well as all who remain silent amid mass slaughter. 



Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 135 

The US rationale for sacrificing the children of Iraq is that through 
the agonizing death by dehydration and starvation, it will make the 
world safe from weapons of mass destruction. In fact, the US has 
now killed more Iraqis in a putative war against weapons of mass 
destruction than the sum total of all people killed by military use of 
all the weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological) 
in human history. 4 Not speaking out against genocide committed in 
the name of a worthy goal is an irrational taboo. As always, the irra- 
tionality of continuing to observe that taboo becomes obvious as 
soon as we examine its underlying premise. In this case, the lethal 
assumption consists of accepting the fantastic notion that killing an 
enormous number of "other" children actually safeguards "our" 
children rather than endangering our own children. 

The problem with depraved foreign policy is the failure to examine 
its assumptions due to the strength of the taboo associated with it. 
The solution is to compel an explicit examination of the policy. 
Detailed consideration of the meaning and degree of implementa- 
tion of the DIA documents is intended to provide a means of opening 
the needed discourse. 

Evil on an immense scale, evil which devours even small children 
in huge numbers over the course of 1 2 years, evil which is documented 
Xy ln the world's pre-eminent medical journals cannot escape notice ~x3~ 

except by active decision. Culpable ignorance, willed-ignorance, 
arising from the conscious decision to skip over troubling articles in 
the most credible literature is pretext for college professors and health 
professionals who claim ignorance of the continuing genocide 
wreaked in their names upon the people of Iraq. The haunting cry 
raised after World War 11 returns: "Just don't say you did not know." 

Some of the strongest voices documenting, witnessing and 
protesting the sanctions are medical professionals from organiza- 
tions such as the Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, 
the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War 
(1PPNW) and so forth. In contrast, the public health establishment 
in the US has been shamefully pandering to the Pentagon to attract 
post-11 September funding. The public health establishment has 
inverted the most fundamental principal of public health: primary 
prevention first, and tertiary prevention last. To give priority to 
primary prevention would require research on the causes of terrorism. 
This line of research would open questions of 'Brazilification' of the 
income distribution and rampant social injustice resulting from 
military, paramilitary and structural violence, but such topics are 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


136 Iraq 

taboo for the grant-making apparatus of the US government. Instead, 
the public -health sector is enjoying a feeding frenzy by catering to 
the Pentagon's lavish funding for tertiary prevention of terrorism. The 
public-health establishment accepts uncritically the Department of 
Defense's (DOD) limitation of the scope of activity to detecting and 
mitigating the result of terrorism. Ergo, the permitted scope of action 
is limited by the government to tertiary prevention only. 

It is also taboo to question the prostitution of public health, just 
as it is taboo to speak of the DOD's inversion of the defining moment 
in the history of public health. In the nineteenth century John Snow 
halted a cholera epidemic in London. He discovered the cause of the 
epidemic (primary prevention) and then dramatically ended it by 
tearing the handle off the Broad Street pump. Dr. Snow's successors 
at the DIA have perverted epidemiology to accomplish the opposite 
effect for Iraq. They have located the vulnerabilities of Iraq's water 
system so their colleagues in the State Department could block its 
rehabilitation by putting holds on indispensable items of equipment 
and chemicals. As a former postdoctoral fellow in public health and 
a continuing contributor to the public health literature, I am troubled 
to the core by this debasement. 

If I fail to write and act forcefully and consistently on the Iraqi 
Xy sanctions, it cannot be from genuine ignorance. No, it is not innocent ~x3~ 

ignorance, but rather succumbing to anxiety resulting from taking 
an unpopular stance, from the fear of isolation, from the worry about 
loss of reputation that inhibits me - making me no better than the 
"good" Aztecs, Germans, and fellow Americans who did not overcome 
their fear of taboo violation. 

If I speak out, despite my palpable fear of violating the deepest 
American political taboo - opposing the government's foreign policy, 
particularly in wartime - it is because I am forever haunted by the 
first five years of my life, the part that I could never bury success- 
fully. The years between my birth until the age of five were those of 
a refugee/displaced person. Ex-refugees often become fanatical 
proponents of war, e.g., former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 
or they become pacifists, study genocides, including American 
genocides and public health. I took the latter path. Stumbling upon 
the DIA's "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities" has ended peaceful 
slumber and reactivated the need to act, which is often common to 

I write this chapter in the hope of troubling your sleep. I write to 
hasten the arrival of a world without genocide. I want our American 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 137 

crimes against the people of Iraq expiated. 1 want a world where no 
children of the twenty-first century die the agonizing death of 
dehydration resulting from water-borne disease. How can we condemn 
the gassing of Jewish children in the twentieth century, but remain 
silent on the fate of the Iraqi children of the twenty-first? 1 corre- 
sponded with a reference librarian at the National Holocaust Museum. 
He had no figure for the number of Jewish children under the age of 
five killed in the extermination camps, but he did estimate the number 
of Jewish children killed under the age of 14 at 1.2 million. The 
estimated number of Iraqi children under the age of five who would 
be alive except for sanctions ranges from a low of approximately 
300,000 s to more than 500,000 - and these estimates omit the dead 
from the years after the studies ended. 6 Of course, there are clear 
differences and similarities that exist among large-scale crimes, and 
though the precise mode of death may differ, the end result is the same. 
1 am old, and have little to lose. 1 am free to describe the horror 
of the economic atomic bomb, which detonates daily to produce 
steady state-sponsored genocide. 1 am free to describe how the world's 
"indispensable democracy" continues to block or delay indispensable 
elements for the reconstruction of civilian infrastructure and to 
transform a modern nation into the charnel house called Iraq. 1 am 
-^3~ f fee > but heartsick, as 1 describe documents that planned the crime ~^y~ 

and assessed its "progress" and aided in its concealment. Do 1 dare 
speak the awful truth? Do 1 dare not? 


In 1998, 1 serendipitously discovered a partially declassified US D1A 
document entitled "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities" (1WTV). 7 
This document sat inside an unorganized heap of 40,000 documents 
on the Department of Defense Gulflink website. As one DOD employee 
put it, "We did not make it easy for you, did we?" Before summarizing 
1WTV and offering an analysis, consider Carolyn Scarr's poem, 
"Recipe." 8 Scarr personalizes realities that 1WTV abstracts into 
comfortably remote child-killing. 

Into a quart jar 

place two cups water 

taken from a ditch 

beside the pasture 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


138 Iraq 

where the cattle once grazed. 

If you do not live near a pasture 

water from any drainage ditch 

or from an urban creek 

may be substituted. 

Add one cup water 

from the toilet bowl 

where you rinsed the baby's diaper 

when she was sick. 

Be sure you do not 

flush the toilet first. 

Ask your husband 

to urinate into the jar. 

Only a little is needed. 

When your neighbor washes his car 

scoop up some of the run-off. 

Add half a cup to the jar. 

Put in a tablespoon or more 

of fine dirt. 

Screw down the lid. 

Shake well. 

Xy Although the cholera ~x3~ 

and typhoid bacilli 

will probably be lacking - 

and the amoebae - 

following this recipe carefully 

will result 

in a reasonable facsimile 

of the solution drunk 

every day 

by millions of people in Iraq 

whose sewage treatment plants 

and water purification systems 

were bombed to smithereens in 1991 

and cannot be rebuilt 

under the conditions of siege 

referred to as 


and maintained by military blockade 

principally by the United States of America. 

You might take your jar 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 139 

to your congress person or senator. 

Ask that person 

to keep it on the table 

where he or she sits 

in the halls of Congress 

until the water runs clean 

from every tap in Iraq 

and no baby 

dies of dysentery. 

The US government actively hid 1WTV from American voters by 
classifying the document as a military secret in 1991. What if the 
public had been permitted access to 1WTV and its companion 
documents in 1991 after the coalition forged by Washington had 
destroyed 85-90 percent of Iraq's electrical system generation capacity 
according to the US Department of Energy, 9 obliterating an indispen- 
sable element for the production of safe water? Would the 
government's ability to sell economic sanctions as a humane 
instrument of coercion have failed? What if Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez's 
resolution, HR 1 70, 10 to lift the sanctions, to save the lives of children 
dying from water-borne diseases, had been buttressed by the authority 
-^3~ °f the US military documents? These questions remain open, because ~^y~ 

the government hid the pertinent military documents, forcing Rep. 
Gonzalez to rely on sources less credible to the public, congress and 
the media. The secret stamp on the documents limited the basis of 
Rep. Gonzalez's plea to UN and NGO reports. 

The secrets contained in these documents would not be seen by 
the public for four more critical years. By that time, the government 
had driven the lie of humane sanctions on Iraq so deeply into the 
American psyche that it remains the conventional wisdom to the 
present day. 

1WTV and 40,000 other previously classified documents surfaced 
because of a breakdown in secrecy. A Central Intelligence Agency 
(CIA) analyst, Patrick Eddington, revealed the fact that the national 
security apparatus had lied to Congress. Eddington, at great risk, 
went public with the fact that contrary to DOD and CIA congressional 
testimony, US service members had been exposed to chemical agents 
during the war against Iraq in 1991. The government, fearing that 
the truth would open a Pandora's Box of problems for the adminis- 
tration, including America's supplying Iraq with chemical and 
biological agents during the war Iraq had fought against Iran for its 


140 Iraq 

Edited by Foxit Reader 

Copyright(C) by Foxit Software Company,2005-2008 

For Evaluation Only. 

Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


American and Gulf State patrons, increasingly focused on a public 
vilification of the Iraqi regime. A mixture of damage control and an 
effort to help veterans of that war understand their medical condition 
induced the ever pragmatic President Bill Clinton to require the DOD 
and the CIA to declassify a huge mass of documents with bearing on 
Gulf War Syndrome. 

IWTV emerged from complete anonymity after Felicity Arbuthnot, 
a remarkable reporter who had personally witnessed the genocide of 
Iraq, interviewed me about IWTV and broke the story in the Sunday 
Herald in Scotland. 11 A progressive community news website,, featured Arbuthnot's story, moving the story 
around the world on the Internet and into the US Congress. On 26 
September 2000 I responded to a request from Rep. Cynthia 
McKinney's staff for a summary of IWTV. Of all the members of 
congress, she was the only one to take notice of Arbuthnot's expose. 
My submission, reproduced below, is based on direct quotes from 
IWTV. The parts of the summary that are not direct quotations from 
IWTV are indicated by square brackets. The submission itself is divided 
into six parts: 

1. Background on IWTV. 

2. Overall Summary of IWTV. 

3. Why Water Treatment Supplies Must Be Exempt from Sanctions. 

4. List of Materials and Chemicals Indispensable to Iraq's Water 
Treatment System. 

5. Why No Possible Iraqi Counter-Measures to Obtain Drinkable 
Water Can Succeed. 

6. DIA's Forecast Regarding the Full Degradation of Iraqi Water 


L Background on "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities" 


* Source: a partially declassified DIA document available at DOD's 
Gulflink site. 

* Date of document: 22 January 1991. 

* Disclosure Information: A partially declassified version publicly 
accessible via the Gulflink website: 1995. 

2. Overall Summary of IWTV 

* Iraq depends on importing specialized equipment and some 
chemicals to purify its water supply. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 141 

* Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking 
water for much of the population. This could lead to increased 
incidences, if not epidemics, of disease and to certain pure water- 
dependent industries becoming incapacitated including: 

1. petrochemicals; 

2 fertilizers; 

3. petroleum refining; 

4. electronics; 

5. pharmaceuticals; 
6 food processing. 

3, Why water treatment supplies must be exempted from 
sanctions 12 

* The quality of untreated water...generally is poor. Heavy min- 
eralization suspended solids and, frequently, high salinity 
characterizes Iraq's water supply. 

* Drinking heavily mineralized water could result in diarrhea. 

* The entire Iraq water treatment system will not collapse pre- 

rf\ * Full degradation of the water treatment system will probably rh 

v ta ke a nother six months [from J a nua ry 1991]. v 

4. List of materials and chemicals indispensable to Iraq's Water 
Treatment System 

Significance of this list: According to 1WTV: "Unless water treatment 
supplies are exempted from UNSANCTIONS [sic] for humanitarian 
reasons, no adequate solution exists for Iraq's water purification 
dilemma, since no suitable alternatives, including looting supplies 
from Kuwait, sufficiently meet Iraqi needs/' [My comment: It is 
essential to get access to the rest of the document; the designation 
"(b)(2)" at the end of the document means that according to the 
Gulflink site a portion of the document was withheld. It is also 
essential to gain access to the related documents, and to the authors 
of these documents and of course to the records of the Sanctions 
Committee to determine the exact fate of the equipment and 
chemicals listed below.] 

Chemicals essential to the Iraqi Water Treatment System 

1. Aluminum sulfate and iron sulfates: flocculants and coagulants. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


142 Iraq 

2. kill pathogens... and prevent the equipment 
from liming: possibilities include sodium hypochlorite, calcium 
hypochlorite, chlorine gas. 

3. Caustic soda: to adjust pH of water. 

4. Copper sulphate, sulfuric acid: to retard algae growth which could 
clog pipes. 

5. Lime: to soften water and precipitate impurities from the water. 

6. Soda ash and zeolites: to remove noncarbonate mineral impurities. 

7. Softening chemicals: to produce bottled water. 

Equipment essential to the Iraqi Water Treatment System 

1 . Reversible ion exchange electrodialysis systems, reverse osmosis 
systems, spare membranes: to soften and desalinate water. 

2. Polyamide membranes and sodium metabisulphite: needed to 
pretreat the water. 

3. Cellulose acetate membranes. 

5, Why no possible Iraqi counter-measures to obtain drinkable 

water can succeed 

1 . Truck water from mountain reservoirs (Iraq's best source of quality 
water) requires sufficient quantities of pipe, pumping stations 

-^3~ an ^ chlorine purification or boiling [Note: "Some affluent Iraqis ~^y~ 

could obtain their own minimally adequate supply of quality 
water.. .if boiled could be safely consumed. Poorer Iraqis. ..would 
not be able to meet their needs/'] 

2. Use rain water: Iraq could not rely on rain to provide adequate 
pure water. 

3. Drill additional water wells: saline or alkaline content of ground 
water in most locations would constrain wells. 

6, DIA's forecast regarding the full degradation of Iraqi water 

1. Iraq will suffer increasing shortages of purified water because of 
the lack of required chemical and desalination membranes. 
Incidences of disease including epidemics will become probable 
unless the population were careful to boil water. 

2. Locally produced food and medicine could be contaminated. 

3. Lack of coagulation chemicals will cause periodic shutdowns of 
treatment plants. ..interrupting water supplies. Full degradation 
of the water treatment system probably will take at least another 
six months. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 143 

To summarize, the primary document, "Iraq Water Treatment 
Vulnerabilities/' spelled out how sanctions could be employed to 
prevent Iraq from supplying clean water to its people. IWTV specified 
in impersonal, abstract, and technical language the DIA's finding 
that denying Iraq just a few items of equipment and a few chemicals 
would enable the US to destroy Iraq's water treatment and sanitation 
within six months. Moreover, denying potable water could continue 
as long as the US maintained sanctions on the identified items. 

With artful understatement, IWTV pronounced a death sentence 
upon the people of Iraq in these words: "Failing to secure supplies 
will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the 
population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, 
of disease/' Surely, the authors are too modest, what other outcome 
can "a shortage of pure water" produce except mass death? The 
authors reinforce their understated death sentence with the assertion 
that: "The quality of untreated water generally is poor/' and "laden 
with bacteria/' So "Unless the water is purified with chlorine, 
epidemics of such diseases as cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid could 
occur/' Not to worry, chlorine "has been embargoed" by sanctions. 
"Recent reports indicate the chlorine supply is critically low/' 
W The authors revealed another "benefit" of their reverse engineering v7~ 

of the greatest triumph over mortality in the history of medicine: the 
generation and distribution of safe water. The final triumph of their 
design was this: it allowed Iraq no escape. Even the most desperate 
efforts by Iraq could not possibly circumvent the projected destruction- 
of-service attack on Iraq's water system. Did any of the authors of 
IWTV feel any pangs of remorse, did they share any of the nightmares 
of any of the members of the Wehrmacht, who a few decades earlier 
had fine-tuned their own technically advanced innovation for the 
mass killing of civilians? Or did the specialization, compartmental- 
ization, and routinization succeed so brilliantly that no doubt or 
remorse arose, or that no nightmares troubled their sleep? 

In IWTV we can find no qualms about designing the biggest 
improvement in genocide since the invention of the extermination 
camp. Instead, we read in a bland pronouncement of the date of the 
death sentence. "Although Iraq is already experiencing a loss of water 
treatment capability, it probably will take at least six months (to June 
1991) before the system is fully degraded/' 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

144 Iraq 


1 returned to the Gulflink site in 2000, never expecting to find follow- 
on documents to IWTV, but a few hours of searching with the terms 
like "children" and "water" yielded six related documents. I interpret 
these six documents as moving beyond IWTV, into monitoring and 
deniability or concealment of the crime. The six documents had 
three themes: 

1. Iraqi children were dying in large numbers. 

2. The prime cause of death was water-borne disease from contam- 
inated water caused by the "degraded water treatment system" 
forecast by IWTV. 

3. The assertion, without any explanation of its plausibility that the 
culprit was entirely the Baghdad regime, which could restore 
public health, in addition to clean water, at will. 

Document 1 

The first in this batch of DIA documents was entitled "Disease 
Information," and is dated January 1991. Its subject line reads: "Effects 
-Q- of Bombing on Disease Occurrence in Baghdad." It must be noted -Q- 

that even without the "benefit" of economic sanctions, "[i]ncreased 
incidence of diseases will be attributable to degradation of normal 
preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification/distribution, 
electricity, and decreased ability to control disease outbreaks. Any 
urban area in Iraq that has received infrastructure damage will have 
similar problems." 

The document proceeds to forecast and itemize the likely outbreaks. 
It highlights "acute diarrhea" which is brought on by bacteria such 
as E. coli, shigella, and salmonella, or by protozoa such as giardia, 
which will have greatest affect "particularly [on] children," or by 
rotavirus, which will also affect "particularly children," a phrase it 
puts in parentheses. The report goes on to cite probable outbreaks of 
typhoid and cholera. 

Switching from assessment to deniability, the document warns 
that the Iraqi government may "blame the United States for public 
health problems created by the military conflict." Is this a "heads- 
up"for the public affairs folk selling the war to the American public? 
Is there concern that the press might not be totally gullible and 
acquiescent? The concern for avoiding blame without even a passing 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 145 

reference to medical ethics and the Geneva Convention is chilling 
in view of the contemporaneous fate of real children, many of whom 
were dying the miserable deaths of dehydration induced by the water- 
borne disease tabulated in "Disease Information/' A candid subject 
line might have been: "The synergistic effect of massive bombing 
with economic sanctions and a heads-up to Public Affairs/' 

Document 2 

The second D1A document, "Disease Outbreaks in Iraq/' is dated 21 
February 1990, an obvious typo for 1991. It states: "Conditions are 
favorable for communicable disease outbreaks, particularly in major 
urban areas affected by coalition bombing/' 

Infectious disease prevalence in major Iraqi urban areas targeted 
by coalition bombing (Baghdad, Basrah) undoubtedly has increased 
since the beginning of Desert Storm. ...Current public health 
problems are attributable to the reduction of normal preventive 
medicine, waste disposal, water purification and distribution, 
electricity, and the decreased ability to control disease outbreaks. 

No surprise here: the "most likely diseases during next sixty-ninety 
-^3~ days (descending order): diarrheal diseases (particularly children); ~^y~ 

acute respiratory illnesses (colds and influenza); typhoid; hepatitis 
A (particularly children); measles, diphtheria, and pertussis (partic- 
ularly children); meningitis, including meningococcal (particularly 
children); cholera (possible, but less likely)/' Again a warning is raised, 
but it is not in compliance with the US military orders for troops to 
report war crimes. Instead the warning is another heads-up logically 
intended for Public Affairs: the Iraqi government might "propagan- 
dize increases of endemic diseases/' This worry that killing civilians 
would concern Americans proved tragically unfounded. 

Document 3 

The third document "Medical Problems in Iraq/' dated March 1991 

Communicable diseases in Baghdad are more widespread than 
usually observed during this time of the year and are linked to the 
poor sanitary conditions (contaminated water supplies and 
improper sewage disposal) resulting from the war. According to a 
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEFJ/Worid Health Organization 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

146 Iraq 

report, the quantity of potable water is less than 5 percent of the original 
shpply, there are no cperational water and sewage treatment plants, and 
the reported incidence of diarrhea is four times above normal levels. 
Additionally, respiratory infections are on the rise. Children par- 
ticularly have been affected by these diseases. 13 

Then in a leap of heroic illogic, the document claims: "There are 
indications that the situation is improving and that the population 
is coping with the degraded conditions/' March 1991, it should be 
noted, was the time period in which, according to the US Department 
of Energy, Iraq electrical production had been bombed (and 
sanctioned) to less than 4 percent of its pre-Desert Storm level. 14 

Document 4 

The fourth document, "Status of Disease at Refugee Camps/' is dated 
May 1991. The summary indicates: "Cholera and measles have 
emerged at refugee camps. Further infectious diseases will spread due 
to inadequate water treatment and poor sanitation/' The reason for 
this outbreak is clearly stated again. "The main causes of infectious 
diseases, particularly diarrhea, dysentery, and upper respiratory 
rf\ problems, are poor sanitation and unclean water. These diseases rh 

v primarily afflict the old and young children/' v 

Document 5 

The fifth document, "Health Conditions in Iraq, June 1991 /'remains 
heavily censored. In one refugee camp, the document says, "at least 
80 percent of the population has diarrhea. At this same camp, named 
Cukurca, "cholera, hepatitis type B, and measles have broken out/' 
The protein deficiency disease kwashiorkor was observed in Iraq "for 
the first time/' and "Gastroenteritis was killing children. ...In the 
south, 80 percent of the deaths were children (with the exception of 
Al Amarah, where 60 percent of deaths were children)/' 

Document 6 

The final document is entitled "Iraq: Assessment of Current Health 
Threats and Capabilities/' dated November 1991. Now that the 
bombers and cruise missiles had annihilated the infrastructure and 
the sanctions were preventing their reconstruction, medical reasoning 
bowed out in favor of proffering a line, however implausible, for use 
by public affairs. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 147 

On the one hand, IWTV provided a detailed explanation for a 
method by which Iraqi access to safe water was kept inoperative 
through United Nations sanctions, at least as long as the US chose 
to exercise its veto over water purification equipment and chemicals 
in the sanctions apparatus established by the Security Council. On 
the other hand, the associated D1A documents claim that the Iraqis 
can restore potable water "at will/' The documents provided no 
explanation whatsoever of how, in the face of the military and 
economic annihilation and blockade, it is within the power of the 
government of Iraq to achieve this massive transformation of their 
ruined country. 

Contrary to subsequent and highly detailed, on-the-ground studies 
made by the UN, D1A analysts assert that "Iraq's medical supply 
shortages are the result of the central government's stockpiling, 
selective distribution, and exploitation of domestic and international 
relief medical resources/' Further, "Resumption of public health 
programs. ..depends completely on the Iraqi government/' 

The next section turns to a consideration of the war crime of 
denying civilian populations the infrastructure indispensable to its 
survival and to the worst of crimes, genocide. 

-e- -e- 


As these documents illustrate, the United States knew sanctions had 
the capacity to devastate the water-treatment system of Iraq. In IWTV, 
the DOD predicted that the consequences could be increased outbreaks 
of disease and high rates of child mortality. In the six associated 
documents, the D1A monitored the outcome of the degradation of 
the Iraqi water supply. The six associated D1A documents showed 
more concern with a potential public relations nightmare for 
Washington than with the actual nightmare that the implementa- 
tion of the sanctions - principally through the blocks and holds on 
material needed to rebuild the water treatment system by the 
governments of the United States and the United Kingdom - created 
for innocent Iraqis. How do the documents and the action of the US 
government at the Iraq Sanctions Committee - the 661 Committee 
- square with the Geneva Convention? 

The Geneva Convention forbids absolutely any method of degrading 
the water system of an adversary state. Article 54 of the 1977 protocol 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

148 Iraq 

to the Geneva Convention deals with the "protection of victims of 
international armed conflicts/' Article 54 states unequivocally: 

It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indis- 
pensable to the survival of the civilian pcpulation r such as foodstuffs, 
crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and 
irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their 
sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, 
whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to 
cause them to move away, or for any other motive. 13 

The language of Article 54 does not permit an escape through the 
semantics of intent, much less specific intent. Rather, Article 54 
prohibits rendering useless "drinking water installations and 
supplies". .."whatever the motive".. ."to starve out civilians. ..or for 
any other motive." But that is precisely what the US government 
did, with malice and forethought. It "destroyed, removed, or rendered 
useless" Iraq's "drinking water installations and supplies." The 
sanctions, imposed for more than a decade, almost entirely at the 
insistence of the United States, constitute an ongoing violation of 
the Geneva Convention. The sanctions and in particular their imple- 
-^3~ mentation by the US- which enjoys an absolute, uncontestable veto ~^y~ 

on material intended for Iraq - amounts to a systematic effort to, in 
the DIA's own words, "fully degrade" Iraq's water sources. 

At a House hearing on 7 June 2001, Representative Cynthia 
McKinney, Democrat of Georgia, referring to "Iraq Water Treatment 
Vulnerabilities" said: "Attacking the Iraqi public drinking water supply 
flagrantly targets civilians and is a violation of the Geneva Convention 
and of the fundamental laws of civilized nations." For more than a 
decade Washington extended the toll by continuing to withhold 
approval for Iraq to import the few chemicals and items of equipment 
it needed in order to rebuild its water treatment infrastructure and 
thereby produce a safe supply of water to its people. In summer 2000 
Representative Tony Hall, Democrat of Ohio, became the first member 
of Congress to visit Iraq since Washington changed the status of Iraq 
from an ally who waged war on Iran, with the full military support 
of the US, to a rogue nation, which invaded Kuwait, another client 
state of the US On his return, Rep. Hall wrote to then Secretary of 
State Madeleine Albright "about the profound effects of the increasing 
deterioration of Iraq's water supply and sanitation systems on its 
children's health." Hall wrote: 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 149 

I share UNICEF's concerns about the profound effects of increasing 
deterioration of Iraq's water supply and sanitation systems on its 
children's health. The prime killer of children tinder five years of 
age - diarrhoeal diseases - has reached epidemic proportions and 
they now strike four times more often than they did in 1990. Holds 
on contracts for the water and sanitation sector are a prime reason 
for the increases in sickness and death. Of the 18 contracts, all but 
one hold was placed by the US Government. The contracts are for 
purification chemicals, chlorinators, chemical dosing pumps, water 
tankers, and other equipment. 

Steps have been taken to assure dual-use items are not 
diverted,... UNICEF follows the United Nations' three-tier 
monitoring system to ensure equipment and supplies are used as 
they are intended. 

I urge you [Secretary Albright] to weigh your decision against 
the disease and death that are the unavoidable result of not having 
safe drinking water and minimum levels of sanitation. 16 

Part 4 will provide more evidence regarding the extent to which 
US implementation of the sanctions regime is consistent with the 
blueprint enunciated in IWTV and assessed in the successor 
Xy documents. Before turning to that evidence however, let us review ~x3~ 

the crime of genocide. 

The definition of genocide in international law comes from the 
UN treaty banning genocide. Article 2 of the United Nations Genocide 
Convention states: 

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts 
committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, 
racial or religious grohp, as such: 17 

a. Killing members of the group; 

b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the 

c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated 
to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; 

d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; 

e. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. 

Some scholars contend that the word "intent" in the treaty's 
definition calls for a smoking gun. As if this smoking gun must be 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


ISO Iraq 

produced by the leadership of the country through a declaration 
stating something to the effect of: "We are engaged in mass killing 
of this particular national or racial or religious group for the specific 
purpose of exterminating them/' Few perpetrators are so blatant or 
so single-minded in their motivations. Moreover, the US freely uses 
the term "genocide" to describe the actions of their enemies while 
ignoring far greater crimes committed by their allies. Notice, for 
example, the charge of genocide against the Iraqi regime, but not the 
Turkish government, which is responsible for far more Kurdish deaths. 
Similarly, the genocide in East Timor, funded largely by the United 
States, is not recognized by the United States government itself. As 
the recent book by Susan Power reveals using recently declassified 
documents obtained from the National Security Archives at George 
Washington University, the State Department refused to use the word 
"genocide" even to describe the blatant genocide in Rwanda. 18 Afar 
less restrictive definition of genocide is provided by prominent 
members of the International Association of Genocide Scholars such 
as Israel W. Charny who wrote: 

Genocide in the generic sense is the mass killing of substantial 
rf\ numbers of human beings, when not in the course of military rh 

forces of an avowed enemy, under conditions of the essential 
defenselessness and helplessness of the victims. 19 


On its face, the DIA's 1WTV gives every appearance of constituting a 
planning document for the commission of genocide. 1WTV provides 
minute details of a fully workable method to "fully degrade the water 
treatment system" of an entire nation. From the perpetrator's 
perspective, 1WTV combines the virtues of concealment, by dispersing 
the killings across time (more than a decade) and space (an entire 
country), with high efficiency in liquidating a significant portion of 
the population of Iraq by creating the conditions for widespread 
disease, including full-scale epidemics. In a word, 1WTV can reasonably 
be viewed as a plan to carry out the extermination of the Iraqi people 
without the need of constructing extermination camps. The author 
recognizes the gravity of these claims. Many, including the author, 
recoil from contemplating the possibility that a Western democracy, 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 151 

particularly the US, could commit genocide. However, it is precisely 
this painful and even taboo possibility which needs to be examined. 
The argument that the operation of the economic sanctions regime 
against Iraq constitutes genocide is now articulated by such prominent 
figures as former Assistant Secretary-General of the UN, Denis 
Halliday, zo former Attorney-General Ramsey Clark, zl and legal scholars 
such as Francis Boyle, zz Shuna Lannan, z:j and George Bisharat. Z4 
Halliday resigned his post as UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq 
after concluding that even with the palliative "Oil for Food/' sanctions 
constituted nothing less than "steady-state genocide/' His successor, 
Hans Von Sponeck followed Halliday in resigning to protest the 
sanctions regime. The protest continued as the World Food Program's 
head in Iraq also resigned. 

Even if 1WTV and the sanctions regime, which empowers it, fail 
to rise to the level of genocide according to the most restrictive 
definitions, then surely the criteria for genocide are met using the 
definitions of the most prominent members of the Association of 
Genocide Scholars. 23 It is chilling to realize that the US, many decades 
after its Cold-War allies and adversaries had signed, took several 
decades to ratify the International Convention against Genocide and 
did so only with the reservations and understandings that compelled 
rt^ many of its NATO allies to declare that the US had rendered its par- st\ 

^ ticipation in the treaty worthless. As a condition of ratification, the vu 

US asserted that it cannot be charged with the crime of genocide, and 
instead only granted permission for the charge to be brought. 

Prudence dictates that before reaching such grave conclusions, we 
explore two alternative hypotheses, either of which, if true, would 
lead to an entirely different interpretation. On the other hand, if 
neither hypothesis can be accepted, then we are compelled to look 
for evidence that the prescription of IWTV or some refined successor 
version of the same notion, has been and continues to be implemented 
against the people of Iraq by the US government. Let us begin by 
examining the two hypotheses. 

Hypothesis 1 

IWTV is a hoax. I viewed IWTV as such a blatant plan for a grave 
breech of the Geneva Convention and even the Genocide Convention 
that I hoped the document was a fraud. Only after communicating 
with the Federation of American Scientists, which also had posted a 
copy of "IWTV" to its site,, as well as with the DOD's 
Gulflink site did I conclude that IWTV is what it purports to be: a 
partially declassified DIA document. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


152 Iraq 

Hypothesis 2 

IWTV is actually benign. To test this hypothesis, I posted a copy of 
IWTV to the JSCOPE (Department of Defense's Joint Services 
Conference on Professional Ethics) discussion list. The responses 
from US and Canadian military participants inJSCOPE divided into 
the following categories: 

1. IWTV may be just a training document, only, and as such would 
be unproblematic. 

2. IWTV may actually be a caution to the military to avoid steps 
which would destroy the water and sanitation system. 

3. IWTV, in any case, never says: execute the steps suggested in the 
document (i.e. use the US veto on the Sanctions Committee to 
block the items identified in IWTV) in order to achieve the full 
degradation of Iraqi water treatment and in this way commit 

These interpretations by JSCOPE participants hardly seemed 
plausible in the light of years of the most draconian sanctions regime 
in modern history, as well as data from the UN Office of the Iraq 
Program and the previously cited letter of Rep. Tony Hall to Secretary 
Xy °f s t ate Albright, described in his press release of June 2000. Z6 1 quoted ~x3~ 

three paragraphs from Rep. Hall's letter to Secretary of State Albright. 
These paragraphs reveal that as late the year 2000, the plan contained 
in IWTV (or some successor version) was still being implemented by 
the US government. 

The most disturbing aspect of Hall's letter is that it makes clear 
that the strategy identified in IWTV in 1991 was still taking its lethal 
toll nine years later. The prime executioner of the fatal strategy of 
killing the very young was the US which exercises the vast majority 
of vetoes on material essential to rebuilding Iraq's water treatment 
system. Deprivation of systems essential to life is, of course, explicitly 
prohibited by the Genocide Convention. The US' junior foreign 
policy partner, the UK, has wielded the remaining 10 percent of 
vetoes to the US' 90 percent of vetoes or "holds" on contracts for Iraq. 

Another indication that IWTV's strategy for denial of potable water 
to Iraq continues to be followed in updated if not exact form, comes 
from the UN Office of the Iraq Program (OIP). OlPdata show that as 
of May 2000, the Iraqi government had requested approximately $1 
billion worth of equipment and chemicals to rehabilitate its water 
system from the proceeds of its oil sales. However, the actions of the 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 153 

US and its junior partner, the UK, had resulted in only $160 million 
of contracts for water system rehabilitation arriving in Iraq. In 
addition, $180 million of contracts for water system rehabilitation 
were currently blocked by the US and UK. Z7 

In 1991, Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, within the first year of the 
imposition of the sanctions, introduced House Resolution 1 70 urgently 
calling for lifting of the sanctions, because of the great toll of death 
and suffering they produced, particularly upon children. Z8 
Unfortunately, Rep. Gonzalez was denied awareness, much less access, 
to the very DIA documents which could have provided the strongest, 
most credible support for HR 1 70. Without these key documents, his 
plea was ignored by Congress and the mainstream media. 

In addition, the head of the Office of the Iraq Program, as well as 
Kofi Annan, whom the US rammed into the position of Secretary- 
General of the UN, have both repeatedly pleaded with the Sanctions 
Committee to permit more contracts for water and sanitation to go 
forward. 29 All of the above strongly suggests that the strategy 
explicated in 1WTV has been followed by the US members of the UN 
Sanctions Committee. The strategy consists of the denial or delay of 
a huge number of contracts for items indispensable to the restoration 
of Iraq's demolished water and sanitation systems. Some items are 
-^3~ permitted some of the time, others are delayed for long periods, with ~^y~ 

or without explanation - explanation is not required to be provided 
by the 661 Committee - which decides what Iraq is permitted to 
purchase with funds derived from oil which the US-dominated United 
Nations permits Iraq to sell. The US can exercise the option to place 
holds or blocks on any contracts funded by the residue of funds (what 
remains after huge deductions for "restitution" and for the UN 
operation of the sanctions apparatus) generated by Iraqi oil under 
the "Oil for Food" program at its own absolute discretion. In the 661 
(or Sanctions) Committee, which determines the life or death of Iraq 
children, the US power is absolute. The US is answerable to no one 
but itself. This bizarre arrangement is somewhat comparable to the 
infamous Versailles Treaty, which also wreaked massive death and 
suffering upon vanquished nations, compelled the payment of 
exorbitant restitution, and led predictably to World War 11. 

This interpretation is further corroborated by the reports of the two 
key no n -governmental organisations (NGOs) involved with water in 
Iraq, the International Committee of the Red Cross and CARE. It is 
also corroborated by key agencies of the UN such as FAO and UN1CEF 
and other NGOs such as CAS1 and Voices in the Wilderness and the 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


154 Iraq 

past two heads of the UN Humanitarian effort in Iraq, Assistant 
Secretary-General Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck. Both 
resigned to protest the sanctions regime which Mr. Halliday, a Nobel 
Peace Prize nominee, characterizes as "steady-state genocide/' Rep. 
David Bonoir has condemned the same sanctions policy as "infanticide 
masquerading as foreign policy/' In addition Rep. Bonoir's letter to 
Secretary of State Powell, da ted June 2001, co-signed by several other 
House colleagues, indicates that the policy first articulated in "Iraq 
Water Treatment Vulnerabilities" continues to be followed to the 
present day. 30 

The result of following the guidance of IWTV has not been the 
destruction of the top ranks of the Iraqi government. Rather, imple- 
menting the strategy outlined in IWTV has killed hundreds of 
thousands of civilians, and not merely any civilians, but those civilians 
farthest removed from either the military or political arena: the very 
young, the very old, and the ill. It is ironic beyond endurance that 
these three categories of people correspond to the same categories of 
humans that Nazi doctors "selected" for immediate death at exter- 
mination camps a few decades earlier. 

Had IWTV been merely a training document, surely it would not 
have to have been so accurate and so detailed in enumerating the 
-^3~ precise items whose denial have had such devastating effect in ~^y~ 

degrading the water and sanitation systems of Iraq over the past 
eleven years. If IWTV were truly a caution against committing the 
gravest breaches of the Geneva Convention or the Genocide 
Convention itself, then surely the recipients of the report would have 
protested the perversion of their "cautions" into a weapon of mass 
destruction against the most defenseless members of the civilian 
population of Iraq. Finally, it is naive to assume that so sophisticated 
a government as the US would put into writing and then declassify 
any explicit order to implement a scheme as breathta kingly immoral 
as the complete, long-term destruction of the water and sanitation 
system of an entire country. The pub lie -relations benefit of identifying, 
then blocking the machinery and chemicals needed to "un-degrade" 
the water system as opposed to simply waging an open, direct, and 
continuous bombing of the water system is clear. However, in terms 
of the incidence, prevalence and mortality rates of diseases caused 
by the continuously "degraded" water supply, there is little distinction. 

If the true intent of IWTV were to detect unintended consequences 
of the sanctions, then why did its authors (and those who commis- 
sioned it) not simply follow their ethical and legal obligation to end 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 155 

this abomination by exposing it? Note that IWTV was hidden from 
the American public by its secret classification until 1995, long after 
concerns about the sanctions had been smothered. The mainstream 
media uncritically accepted the US government's claims that the 
degree of death and suffering was exaggerated and in any event 
(following the self-serving words of the latter D1A documents) were 
entirely the fault of the Baghdad regime. Instead of citing credible 
evidence, such as the most respected NGO and UN agency reports, 
the media has almost always attributed the data regarding death and 
suffering solely to the actions or inactions of the Iraqi government. 
How many children's lives would have been spared from death by 
cholera, induced by "degrading" the water purification systems of Iraq, 
had the world known in 1991 the information available on the public 
portion of government websites? 1 seize on cholera partly because it 
is listed under the heading of "Biological Warfare, BW" 31 on the 
DOD's Gulflink site. 32 Note also that my discovery of IWTV was 
almost purely by chance, rather than the result of someone alerting 
people to the existence of the document. 

Again, if the intent of "IWTV" were to prevent unintended con- 
sequences, then why did the people who commissioned the study, 
wrote the study and received the study fail to use it to sound the 
Xy alarm as soon as the impact of the degradation of the water systems ~x3~ 

became apparent? One might object that they were not aware of the 
lethal consequences of IWTV. This is unlikely, certainly for the medical 
personnel involved, in the light of a series of studies on the effect of 
the contaminated water from the degraded water treatment systems 
of Iraq on childhood mortality published in the leading US and British 
medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, British 
fournal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, J he Lancet, and the 
American fournal of Public Health. A collection of these articles and 
reports is available at Cambridge University's Campaign Against 
Sanctions on Iraq (CAS1) site. 33 

How many thousands of children would be alive today, but for 
such deadly diseases as cholera resulting from the US deliberative 
policy of "degrading" the entire water purification system of Iraq? 
Had the world known back in 1991, even in 1995 how many children 
would have been saved? Last month an estimated 6,000 children 
died in Iraq. The leading cause of their deaths continues to be water- 
borne diseases that could have been prevented . Another 6,000 died 
needlessly the month before, linking themselves to a chain of small 
corpses stretching back to 1991. The lowest credible estimate of the 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


156 Iraq 

death toll of children tinder five comes from Garfield who puts the 
figure into the hundreds of thousands. 34 Based on a detailed house- 
by-house survey by UNICEF, 33 summarized in Ike Lancet, the figure 
is put above 500,000 excess deaths of children under the age of five. 36 

Some thought experiments 

The most compelling case for the proposition that IWTV is nothing 
less than a prescription for genocide is a thought experiment. First, 
consider a very quick thought experiment then a more extended 
one. Suppose, the CIA had uncovered a study from the Federal 
Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) which detailed precisely how best to 
poison the water supply of Albanian villages in Kosovo. Suppose 
further that credible evidence were advanced by a whole score of UN 
agencies and NGOs that the water in several Albanian villages was 
being contaminated by the FRY consistent with the discovered plan. 
Is there any doubt that the US government, the Human Rights 
community, the Committee of Conscience of the National Holocaust 
Museum and indeed the Association of Genocide Scholars would 
and should characterize the conduct of the FRY as genocide and call 
for indictments and trials? 

Now consider a longer thought experiment. Suppose I distributed 
-Q- to you a document entitled "US Water Treatment Vulnerabilities/' -Q- 

For the purpose of this thought experiment, I ask you to assume that 
the document is a genuine product of the Iraq Defense Intelligence 
Agency and that this Iraqi document sets forth the following: 

1. a detailed and feasible Iraqi plan to destroy the entire water and 
sanitation system of the United States; 

2. an Iraqi plan to prevent the rebuilding of the water and sanitation 
system of the US for as long as Iraq wishes; 

3. an Iraqi plan spelling out the likely health impact upon the 
population of the US, namely epidemics caused by the resulting 
contaminated water supply, and 

4. an Iraqi plan which explains in detail why no US countermeasures 
can succeed in rebuilding the American water and sanitation 
system against the wishes of Iraq. 

If we accepted the sourcing of the document and its feasibility, who 
would have any qualms about: 

1 . denouncing the "US Water Treatment Vulnerabilities" document 
as genocidal, as the gravest possible breech of the Geneva 


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The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 157 

Convention, as a plan for infanticide, as a means of selecting for 
death the very young, as well as the very old, the sick; 
2. suggesting massive air strikes against Iraq, citing the "right" of 
preemptive military action. 

Surely the additional discovery of the equivalent of the six related 
D1A documents for monitoring and concealing this crime of 
preventing the production of pure water in the US would satisfy any 
possible skeptics regarding the issue of genocide. Under these cir- 
cumstances, who would possible raise the issue of proving "intent" 
or the absence of an "execute" order? 

Before considering how 1WTV can be used to end the ongoing 
genocide against Iraq and prevent other genocides, it is helpful to 
reflect upon Ken McCarthy's poetic rendering of mass murders, past 
and present; from primitive but vividly pictorial mass murders to the 
latest in efficiency and deniability in mass murder. Mr McCarthy 
used the poem as the preface to his posting to an Internet journalism 
newsgroup of Felicity Arbuthnot's Sunday Herald article, the first 
major newspaper expose of 1WTV. 37 

When the world was a smaller place, 1 guess it was easy to ride into 
-£^- town and just kill everyone in sight Mongol-style. -C'X- 

Larger populations take more effort, especially if you're trying to 
keep your handiwork secret from the world. 

The Nazis rounded up Jews and other minorities and sent them 
via boxcar to barb-wired concentration camps. 

The US and its allies have developed a more economical solution: 
Turn the entire target country into an open-air extermination camp. 

It saves on the barbed wire, guard towers and incinerators. 

Ken McCarthy, "Murder at Wholesale Prices" 38 


Step 1, Overcoming willed ignorance and opposing from the 
silence of the heart 

Every great philosophical and religious tradition demands that when 
people discover great evil, they take the steps necessary to end the 
evil. In the Islamic tradition this is rendered as the Hadith: 


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158 Iraq 

Whoever of you see an evil action, let him change it with his hand; 
if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not 
able to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest of faith. 

al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths 

Before evil can be ended, it must be recognized. Willed ignorance 
must be overcome. The first step for moving beyond willed ignorance 
is to recognize the fact that we are all subject to the control of strong 
taboos and denial of painful and threatening information which 
threatens our belief in the conventional wisdom. Thomas Kuhn's 
Structure of Scientific Revolution showed that even scientists were largely 
impervious to the accumulation of anomalies, which threatened 
paradigms in which they are deeply invested. Most scientists have 
gone to their graves denouncing new paradigms, even if the new 
paradigms accounted for the data including previous anomalies far 
better than the old paradigms. Certainly people- scientists included 
- are greatly threatened by anomalies that challenge comfortable 
world views such as the justness of their government, that crimes 
committed by their government are actually mistakes that are 
corrected as soon as they are detected. This naive view is made possible 
by committing large-scale, long-duration crimes against humanity, 
Xy in increasingly indirect and deniable ways, including replacing military ~x3~ 

weapons with economic weapons. 

People in many countries and eras faced the crisis of overcoming 
willed ignorance of their nation's crimes against the people of other 
nations. Sartre in the profoundly ironically titled essay, "You must 
be wonderful" pleaded with French citizens to read the testimony of 
French reservists reporting the French government's policy of torture 
and massacre waged in Algeria during the Algerian war of independ- 
ence. 39 Today hundreds of reservists in the Israeli Defense Forces are 
pleading with their sisters and brothers to read why they are refusing 
orders to participate in the torture and massacre that marks the 
occupation of the illegally Occupied Territories. We can learn much 
from the successes of other people facing similar challenges. 

In my case, the heroic witness of Kathy Kelly, Bishop Gumbleton, 
Bert Sachs, Gerri Haynes, former Attorney -General Ramsey Clark, 
former Assistant Secretary- Genera Is of the UN, Denis Halliday and 
Hans Von Sponeck, compelled me to stop avoiding the disturbing 
information about the effects of sanctions. I read the accounts of 
these members of the Voices in the Wilderness, The International 
Action Coalition, and the UN. I also started reading the profoundly 


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The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 159 

disturbing UN reports from the FAO, WHO, UNICEF, International 
Committee of the Red Cross, and the accounts in The Lancet, the 
Annals of Internal Medicine, the British Journal of Medicine, and the 
American fournal of Public Health. I was also affected by the cruel 
response by the US Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets 
Control which threatened enormous fines on people "guilty" of 
bringing toys and medicines to the children of Iraq without proper 
licenses from the Department of the Treasury. Was this in the tradition 
of all perpetrators who react savagely to any unauthorized act of 
humanity towards the condemned? Certainly without the risks and 
pain incurred by these principled rescuers, I would have continued 
to accept the implausible accounts of the mass media. To act intelli- 
gently and with compassion, it is necessary to learn the truth. Websites 
of organizations such as Voices in the Wilderness, the International 
Action Coalition, Citizens Concerned for the People of Iraq, 40 and 
the American Friends Service Committee, provide excellent 
information and motivation to act. 41 A daily collection of well- 
reasoned dissenting views is furnished by 42 
Perhaps the single most comprehensive site for the history, operation, 
humanitarian, medical and legal aspects of the sanctions is housed 
at Cambridge University. This splendid resource is readily available 
-^3~ t0 au worldwide through the CASI website which it hosts. 43 ~^y~ 

Once people exercise the moral will to recognize evil, even evil 
which they find repellant because of its scope and extent and because 
it is largely or entirely the responsibility of their own country, then 
at least they can oppose the evil silently in their hearts. This 
recognition and silent opposition forms a significant step, but is only 
the start of ending the evil. The next step requires a public act of 

Step 2. Speaking against the evil of sanctions 

In addition to speaking to friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors, 
the next step consists of writing letters and articles to human-rights 
groups, professional groups, the NGOs and the government itself. 
Since lobbying for the end of human-rights atrocities such as the 
sanctions violates a taboo forbidding the criticism of American or 
British foreign policy, the results are often hostility or indifference. 
It is very useful to share your letters and articles through the Internet 
to overcome the usual evasion of media and government alike: the 
claim that yours is the first and only letter or article, op-ed, etc. ever 
received condemning the sanctions policy, so naturally it cannot be 


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160 Iraq 

published or broadcast. Both Voices in the Wilderness 44 and the 
Campaign of Conscience 43 provide another vehicle for speaking out. 
Thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations have signed 
the pledges of Voices and the Campaign of Conscience. 

Another tactic is to give papers and organize or participate in teach- 
in and panels on the sanctions policy. In 1999 I presented a paper 
which included the issue of IWTV at the annual meeting of the 
Department of Defense's Joint Services on Professional Ethics 
{JSCOPE). This presentation provided a way of testing my interpre- 
tation of the document and of reaching an audience unlikely to read 
the a nti -sanctions literature of Voices in the Wilderness or to visit 
the CASI website. Many organizations including JSCOPE have an 
Internet discussion group (Listserv) making it possible to raise vital 
topics and get feedback outside the limits of annual meetings. I found 
this resource highly valuable. In 2002, I organized a session for a 
teach-in on sanctions and water as a weapon of war against Iraqis 
and Palestinians at the American University in Washington, DC. 

The next step beyond the individual paper consists of organizing 
a panel on the topic of IWTV and the sanctions policy. This I did at 
JSCOPE 2001 with Prof . Joy Gordon. 46 Since then I have participated 
in panels on the impact of the sanctions on Iraq at University College, 
TT" Cork; Trinity College, Dublin; and McMaster University in Canada. v7~ 

Because of the scope and duration of the sanctions against Iraq, it will 
be necessary to convene truth commissions so the full story emerges, 
the anguish of the victims is recognized, and the guilt of the perpe- 
trators acknowledged. Anything less invites a recurrence of IWTV 
and genocide. Finally, it must be recognized that acting as responsible 
citizens requires an act of the will for which few are prepared. Excellent 
resources are available as shown in Table 5.1 below. 

Table 5. / Resources to help take action 

1 Sam Husseini's Spectrum of Action 

Nothing X Gandhi 

2 The Constructive Program (in addition to conventional information and 
demonstrations). See Michael Nagler's book, Is Jhere No Other Way? The 
Search for a Nonviolent Future (Berkeley, California: Berkeley Hills Books, 

3 If you need to control anger, fear and greed (as I most definitely do), you 
might try E. Easwagan, Meditation: A Simple 8-Point Program for Translating 
Spiritual Ideals into Daily Life (Tomales, CA: Nilgiri Press, 1991) which is 
strongly recommended by Nagler. I have already found it very helpful, 
though I'm a beginner to meditation. 


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The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 161 

The first item in Table 5 .1 , is Sam Husseini's Spectrum of Action. 47 
This proved valuable when 1 discovered that a prime apologist for 
the sanctions, Secretary of State Albright, would debase my university 
by giving the Commencement Address. 1 became enraged, then inert 
after my speech opposing honoring her was completely ignored by 
the Faculty Senate of George Washington University. 1 was able to 
enlist others in producing an effective educational protest, when Sam 
Husseini pointed out that 1 should find a point of action 1 was able 
and prepared to do along the spectrum of potential activities. The 
result was the construction and successful distribution to several 
thousand students, faculty and guests of an "Unofficial 
Commencement Ceremony/' Extremely practical theory and practice 
of the non-violent alternative to the violence of military and economic 
force and to structural violence is spelled out in Michael Nagler's 
masterpiece Is There No Other Way? The Search for a Nonviolent Future. 
To overcome one's own anger, fear, and greed, Nagler suggests the 
book by his mentor Enath Easwagan entitled Meditation: A Simple 8- 
Point Program for Translating Spiritual Ideals into Daily Life. Finally, to 
keep my perspective and composure, 1 find useful a fragment of a poem 
by Denise Levertov and Jan Myrdal's question. Levertov writes: 

Cruel America when you kill our people and mutilate our land, 

It is not our spirit you destroy, 

But your own. 

And Jan Myrdal, in Confessions of a Disloyal Eurcpean asks us if we are 
the Bearers of Consciousness or the Whores of Reason? 48 


Now let's turn 1WTV upside down with the antithetical use of 1WTV 
and its six associated documents to oppose the continuing genocide 
and to prevent future genocides. Ambitious but fitting constructive 
Gandhian programs to supplement non-violent protest are possible. 
Examples include physically rehabilitating the water treatment 
system of Iraq, even in the face of severe US government threats 
by the Campaign of Conscience described previously. The challenge 
posed by the Voices in the Wilderness to the draconian US laws 
blocking citizen efforts to rescue the people of Iraq from the 


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162 Iraq 

collective punishment of contaminated water provides another 
Gandhian example. 

Let us conclude by asking what could serve as a fitting memorial 
and a sign of atonement for the more than 500,000 Iraqi children 
under the age of five exterminated by the sanctions policy of the US? 
Although the economic sanctions against Iraq are authorized by the 
UN, it is the US government's policy consisting of more than 12- 
years of blocks (vetoes) and holds (delays) on proposed Iraqi contracts 
for the rehabilitation of infrastructure that has given the sanctions 
their awesome deadliness, particularly with respect to children. The 
sum of $9 billion annually is demanded as a memorial for past victims 
of the genocide and to prevent future victims. Such an annual 
expenditure can eradicate the scourge of death from water-borne 
disease worldwide. More than 2 million children under the age of 5 
will be saved annually by this memorial to Iraqi children. Can there 
be a more fitting symbol of American atonement? An added benefit 
is that this positive expenditure of money, unlike the $18 billion 
spent bombing Afghans, has real potential for reducing counter- 
terrorism from abroad. This memorial could be the start of a Marshall 
Plan for the twenty-first century in which reallocation of 3 percent 
^-x of the world's military budget would give all the children of the world _/JX 

^ pure water, rudimentary education and health care. 49 Please refer to vu 

Table 3.1 for the estimates on infant mortality. 


Reading the D1A documents on the Internet 

All the DIA documents mentioned in this article were found at the 
Department of Defense's Gulflink site. 
To read or print documents: 


2. click on "Declassified Documents" on the left side of the front 

3. the next page is entitled "Browse Recently Declassified 

4. click on "search" under "Declassified Documents" on the left 
side of that page; 

5. the next page is entitled "Search Recently Declassified 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 163 

6. enter search terms such as "disease information effects of 

7. click on the search button; 

8. the next page is entitled "Data Sources"; 

9. click on D1A; 
10. click on "Disease Information" or any other title. 


1. Thomas J. Nagy. "Panel on 'Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities' The 
Ethics of the Document & Responsibility/' Joint Services Committee on 
Professional Ethics (Springfield, VA, 2001). 

2. Thomas J. Nagy. "The Role of Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities in 
Halting One Genocide and Preventing Others/' Paper presented at 
Association of Genocide Scholars, Fourth Biennial Conference (June 

3. My website, "Thomas, J. Nagy Homepage/' at:, 
hosts a number of my papers and a lecture on Iraq together with a copy 
of "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities." 

4. John Mueller and Karl Mueller. "Rethinking Sanctions on Iraq -The Real 
Weapons of Mass Destruction?", Foreign Affairs (May t]ur\£ 1999). As found 

5. Richard Garfield. "Morbidity and Mortality among Iraqi Children from 
r^\ 1990 through 1998: Assessing the Impact of the Gulf War and Economic (^ 

Sanctions" (1999). As found at: v 


6. See UNICEE "Results of the 1999 Iraq Child and Maternal Mortality 
Surveys/' UNICEF, 2000. As found at:; 
and Mohamed M. Ali and Iqbal H. Shah. "Sanctions and childhood 
mortality in Iraq/' Ihe Lancet, Vol. 3SS (27 May 2000), pp. 1851-7. As 
found at: 

7. Defense Intelligence Agency, "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities/' 22 
January 1991, as found at: 
19950901 /9S0901_S1 lrept_91.html. 

8. "Recipe" is © 2001 Carolyn S. Scarr. Permission is granted to read, reprint. 
Ms Scarr requests that she be informed when 'Recipe' is reprinted. Her 

9. "Around 85-90 percent of Iraq's national power grid (and 20 power 
stations) was damaged or destroyed in the Gulf War. Existing generating 
capacity of 9,000 megawatts (MW) in December 1990 was reduced to 
only 340 MW by March 1991." The remaining 340 MW represents a 
reduction of more than 96 percent from the pre-Desert Storm total. In 
view of the dependence of water treatment and distribution on electrical 
power, this statistic alone renders assertions of DIA documents that Iraq 
could chose to solve the humanitarian disaster resulting from the absence 
of sufficient potable water implausible. Department of Energy (US), "Iraq" 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


164 Iraq 

10. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez. "A Call to Lift Economic Sanctions against Iraq/' 
Congressional Record (24 June 1991). 

11. Felicity Arbuthnot. "Allies deliberately poisoned Iraq public water supply 
in Gulf War/' Sunday Herald (17 September 2000) as found at: www.sun- 

12. Emphasis added by author. 

13. Emphasis added by author. 

14. Department of Energy (US). "Iraq." as found at: 

15. Emphasis added by author. See: Ramsey Clark et al. "WAR CRIMES: A 
Report on United States War Crimes Against Iraq to the Commission of 
Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal/' as found at: The "Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions 
of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of 
International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977/' maybe found 

16. Rep. Tony Hall. "Letter to Secretary of State Albright" (28 June 2000). As 
found at: See also "Rep. Hall Urges 
US Government to Review 'Holds' on Iraqi Civilians' Needs/' Common 
Dreams NewsC enter (28 June 2000) as found at: 

17. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as 
found at: Emphasis added by author. 

18. Samantha Power. A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (New 
rt^ York: Basic Books, 2002). _£l\- 
^ 19. As found in George Andreopoulos (ed.) Genocide: Conceptual and Historical \U~ 

Dimensions l 1st edn (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 
1994, 2002). 

20. Denis Halliday. "Economic Sanctions on the People of Iraq: First Degree 
Murder or Manslaughter/' AAUGMonitor l Vol. IS. No. 1 (Spring 2000), 
pp. 1-3. As found at: 

21 . R. Clark "Report to the UN Security Council re: Iraq" (26 January 2000). 
As found at: 

22. Francis Boyle. "Indictment, Complaint and Petition by the 4.S Million 
Children of Iraq for Relief from Genocide by President George Bush and 
the United States of America/' (1998). As found at: 

23. Shuna Lennon. "Sanctions, genocide, and war crimes/' a paper presented 
to the International Law Association on 29 February 2000 as found at: 
w w w. c on ve rge. o rg. nz/pm a /i r gen . htm . 

24. George Bishart. "Sanctions against Iraq are Genocide/' Seattle-Post 
Intelligencer (3 May 2002). 

25. Association of Genocide Scholars. "Social Scientists Definitions 
of Genocide" (2001). As found at: 
d ef _gen o c i d e. html. 

26. Rep. Tony Hall. "Letter to Secretary of State Albright" (28 June 2000). As 
found at: See also: "Rep. Hall Urges 
US Government to Review 'Holds' on Iraqi Civilians' Needs," Common 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The DIA's Genocide Planning, Assessment, and Cover-up Documents 165 

Dreams NewsC enter (28 ]ur\£ 2000) as found at: 


27. UN Office of the Iraq Program (2000). 

28. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez. "A Call to Lift Economic Sanctions against Iraq/' 
Congressional Record (24 June 1991). 

29. Colin Rowat. "Starving Iraq: one humanitarian disaster we can stop/' 
Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq (1999). As found at: 

30. EPIC, 2001. 

31. "Gulf War Cross Reference File." (7 May 1996) as found at: 
www. gulflink. s_ref . html . 

32. GulfLink: Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses. As found 

33. Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq (CASI). Website: 
societies/casi. See specifically: CASI, "Humanitarian Impacts of the 
Sanctions/' themes.html. 

34. Richard Garfield. "Morbidity and Mortality among Iraqi Children from 
1990 through 1998: Assessing the Impact of the Gulf War and Economic 
Sanctions" (1999). As found at: 

35. UNICEF. "1999 Iraq Child and Maternal Mortality Surveys" (12 August 
1999) as found at: 

36. Mohamed M. Ali and Iqbal H. Shah. "Sanctions and childhood mortality 
m Iraq/' Ihe Lancet, Vol. 3SS (27 May 2000), pp. 1851-7. As found at: 

-£ ^— 37. F eli c ity Arbuthn ot. "Alii es d elib erately p o i s on ed I raq publi c w ater supply — £ ^- 

in Gulf War/' Sunday Herald (17 September 2000) as found at: www.sun- 083 7. 

38. "Murder at Wholesale Prices" is used by permission of the author. 

39 . In 1 95 8, th e b o ok La a ues tion (The Ques tion ) by Hen ri Alleg w as publi sh ed , 
in which he exposed his own torture at the hands of the French. Its intro- 
duction was written by Jean Paul Sartre. In 1960, a group of intellectuals 
around Sartre, including Simone de Beauvoir, Andre Breton, Simone 
Signoret and many others protested against the war with a "Manifesto 
of the 121." See Henri Alleg. La question (Paris: Minuit, 1958). Trans, in 
English as Ihe Question (New York: Braziller, 1958). 

40. Citizens Concerned for the People of Iraq. Website: 

41. American Friends Service Committee. "Campaign of Conscience" (2001). 
As found at: See also American 
Friends Service Committee. "Organizational Endorsement Form for 
Campaign of Conscience" (2001) as found at: 
orgdorse.htm, and American Friends Service Committee. "Humanitarian 
Shipment to Iraq: 1 200 Individuals and 73 Organizations Break US Law 
and Violate Embargo" (2000) as found at: 

42. Website: 

43. To give one example, the CASI site is so complete that it makes available 
IWTY a defense of IWTVby an ex-US service member, and my Association 
of Genocide paper on IWTV The debate on IWTV is also available by 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


166 Iraq 

searching the CASI listserv (or Internet discussion group) as found at: 

44. Voices in the Wilderness: A Campaign to End the Economic Sanctions 
Against the People of Iraq. "Civil Penalties Proposed against Voices in 
the Wilderness" (1998). As found at: 

45. Campaign of Conscience website: 

46. Joy Gordon. "Panel on 'Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities' Some 
Comments on Intent/' Joint Service on Professional Ethics (Springfield, 
VA: 2001). As found at: 

47. Sam Husseini. "Spectrum of Action/' Personal communication, May 

48. Jan Myrdal. Confessions of a Disloyal Eurcpean, 2nd edn (Chicago : Lake 
View Press, 1990) (1st edn New York: Vintage Books, 1968). 

49. Dick Bell and Michael Renner. "A New Marshall Plan? Advancing Human 
Security and Controlling Terrorism/' WorldWatch Institute News Release (9 
October 2001). As found at: 

^ -0- 


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6 The US Obsession with 
Iraq and the Triumph 
of Militarism 

Stephen Zunes 

This US invasion and occupation of Iraq constitutes an important 
precedent, being the first test of the new doctrine articulated by 
President George W. Bush of "pre-emption/' which declares that the 
United States has the right to invade sovereign countries and 
overthrow their governments if they are seen as potentially hostile 
to US interests. The decision to invade was less a reflection of any 
real threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime than a manifestation 
of a unipolar world system where international legal conventions 
and institutions - many of which were put forward through the 
encouragement of such American presidents as Woodrow Wilson 
and Franklin Roosevelt in order to build a safer world - can now be 
-£^- abrogated if the world's one remaining superpower deems it necessary. -C'X- 

There has never been much debate regarding the nefarious nature 
of Saddam Hussein's regime. Given that the United States backed 
this regime at the height of its repression in the 1980s, however, and 
that it continues to support repressive governments in the Middle 
East and elsewhere, there is enormous skepticism as to whether this 
newfound concern for human rights expressed by the Bush 
Administration as a major rationalization for its invasion was sincere. 

In any case, having a repressive regime has never been a legal 
ground for invasion. When Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978 to 
overthrow the Khmer Rouge - a radical communist movement even 
more brutal than the Ba'athist regime in Iraq - the United States 
condemned the action before the United Nations (UN) as an act of 
aggression and a violation of international law. The United States 
successfully led an international effort to impose sanctions against 
Vietnam and insisted that the UN recognize the Khmer Rouge as the 
legitimate government of Cambodia for more than a decade after 
their leaders were forced out of the capital into remote jungle areas. 
Similarly, the United States challenged three of its closest allies - 
Great Britain, France, and Israel - before the United Nations in 1956 



Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


168 Iraq 

when they invaded Egypt in an attempt to overthrow the anti-Western 
regime of Gamal Abdul Nasser. The Eisenhower administration insisted 
that international law and the UN Charter must be upheld by all 
nations regardless of their relations with the United States. 

Yet, today both Republicans and Democrats are united in the belief 
that the United States has the right to invade other countries if the 
president determines it is necessary. 

Part of this shift in attitude comes from the so-called "war on 
terrorism/' In the months following the 1 1 September terrorist attacks, 
there were leaks to the media about alleged evidence of a meeting 
in Prague between an Iraqi intelligence officer and one of the hijackers 
of the doomed airplanes that crashed into the World Trade Center. 
Subsequently, however, both the EBI and CIA declared that no such 
meeting occurred. 1 It is unlikely that the decidedly secular Ba'athist 
regime - which savagely suppressed Islamists within Iraq - would 
have been able to maintain close links with Bin Laden and his 
followers. Saudi Prince Turki bin Eaisal, his country's former intelli- 
gence chief, noted how Bin Laden views Saddam Hussein "as an 
apostate, an infidel or someone who is not worthy of being a fellow 
Muslim/' 2 Much of the money trail for al-Qaida comes from US ally 
Saudi Arabia; none has been traced to Iraq. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers 
-^3~ were Saudi; none were Iraqi. The administration and Congress have ~^y~ 

noted reports of al-Qaida operatives in Iraq, yet these alleged al- 
Qaida elements have been spotted only in the autonomous Kurdish 
areas in the north of the country, not in areas controlled by the 
Baghdad government. Various accounts of alleged Iraqi connections 
with various al-Qaida operatives alleged by US Secretary of State 
Colin Powell and others have, upon closer examination, proved to 
be groundless. 

The State Department's own annual study immediately prior to the 
build-up for an invasion, Patterns of Global Terrorism 1991, did not 
list any serious act of international terrorism by the government of 
Iraq. 3 Iraq's past terrorist links have largely been limited to such 
secular groups as Abu Nidal, a now largely defunct Palestinian organ- 
ization. At the height of Iraq's support of Abu Nidal, in the early 
1980s, the United States dropped Iraq from its list of countries that 
supported terrorism in order to support Iraq's war effort against Iran. 
(They were added back on only after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, 
despite a lackof evidence of increased ties to terrorism.) A CIA report 
indicated that the Iraqis had actually been consciously avoiding any 
actions against the United States or its facilities abroad, presumably 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 1 69 

out of fear of retaliation. 4 Abu Nidal himself was apparently murdered 
by Iraqi agents in his Baghdad apartment in August 2002. 

However, the primary concern about an alleged Iraqi threat was 
not solely from alleged connections to terrorist groups by Saddam 
Hussein's regime, but from Iraq itself. This is ironic since Iraq not only 
had much of its military equipment destroyed during the 1991 Gulf 
War and subsequent air strikes and UN inspections, but was unable 
to have access to spare parts due to a strict military embargo first 
imposed in August 1990. At the start of the US invasion in March 
2003 Iraq's conventional armed forces were barely one-third their 
pre-1991 strength. Even though they had not been required to reduce 
their conventional forces under post-war restrictions imposed by the 
United Nations Security Council, the destruction of their weapons 
and their economic difficulties led to a substantial reduction in men 
under arms. The navy had become virtually nonexistent; the air force 
was not only just a fraction of what it was before the war, but US forces 
essentially controlled the skies. Military spending by Iraq had dropped 
to barely one- tenth of its levels in the 1980s. 3 Furthermore, Iraq has 
never had an effective system of support, sustainability or supplies 
for its military outside its dependence on foreign imports. 6 Saddam 
rf\ Hussein became a threat to his neighbors in the 1980s only because rt\ 

of foreign military aid, and such military aid ceased in August 1990. 
Despite widespread calls internationally to liberalize or eliminate the 
current sanctions on civilian goods for humanitarian reasons, there 
were no serious calls for ending the military embargo against the 
country. As a result, there was little reason to believe that Iraq would 
pose a credible threat to its neighbors in the foreseeable future through 
conventional arms. 

The biggest concern raised by US officials, however, was non-con- 
ventional weaponry. 


The ceasefire agreement imposed on Iraq by the UN Security Council 
at the end of the Gulf War in 1991 included unprecedented infringe- 
ments on Iraq's sovereignty, particularly regarding the dismantling 
of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related facilities. UN 
Security Council Resolution 687, among other things, provided for 
the destruction, removal or rendering harmless all Iraqi nuclear, 
chemical and biological weapons capability, including both the 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


170 Iraq 

weapons themselves and facilities for research, development and 
manufacturing, as well as eliminating ballistic missiles with a range 
of over 100 miles. In order to follow through on such a disarmament 
program, the Security Council set up the United Nations Special 
Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM), which would be allowed free access 
to inspect and destroy such weaponry. The United States and its allies 
in the UN argued that such stringent measures were a reasonable 
response to a regime that had indicated its ability to develop and 
utilize WMDs and commit acts of aggression against its neighbors. 
Even Arabs who shared American concerns about the Iraqi regime, 
however, were disturbed that the United States had succeeded in 
getting the world body to single out this Arab nationalist government 
for such special restrictions, given US support for Israel, which they 
point out had also developed weapons of mass destruction and 
invaded neighboring states. 

The US-led militarization of the Middle East has been repeatedly 
justified in the name of defending the security interests of the United 
States. However, US military prowess is many times greater than all 
potential Middle Eastern adversaries combined. Furthermore, the 
United States is located on the opposite side of the planet from the 
Middle East, far out of range of potentially hostile militaries, none 
Xy of which have much in the way of power projection beyond a few ~x3~ 

hundred miles of their borders. As a result, the greatest single fear 
for United States security stemming from the Middle East is the 
possibility that a government or group hostile to the United States 
will somehow obtain a nuclear weapon and seek to use it against the 
United States. Despite desperate efforts by the Bush administration 
to justify the creation of a nuclear missile defense program of dubious 
efficacy, the primary threat of such an attack comes not from missiles 
but from less conventional forms of delivery, such as from being 
smuggled into the country. Putting aside questions of plausibility or 
method, however, the United States commitment to nonprolifera- 
tion has been quite inconsistent. 

Abandoning decades of efforts to promote nuclear nonprolifera- 
tion, the Clinton administration in the 1990s moved toward a policy 
of "counter-proliferation/' signaling that the preferred response to 
the problem had become that of military force. Related to this was 
a de-emphasis on export controls and other preventative measures. 
For example, the nuclear program of Iraq - the Middle Eastern country 
about which the United States has expressed the greatest concern - 
was made possible through imports from the West of so-called "dual- 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 1 71 

use" technologies, having civilian applications but also capable of 
producing nuclear weapons or delivery systems. Yet, President 
Clinton's Secretary of Defense, William Perry, argued before Congress 
that it was a "hopeless task" to control such dual-use technology, 
arguing that "it only interferes with a company's ability to succeed 
internationally." 7 This Clinton administration's position, upheld by 
its successor, is in direct contradiction to the position taken by United 
Nations inspectors in Iraq, who called for "strict maintenance of 
export controls by the industrialized nations" to prevent the Iraqi 
regime from once again developing its nuclear program. 8 

In 1981 the Israeli air force attacked Iraq's French-built Osirak 
nuclear power plant, an operation made possible by the US decision 
to supply Israel with high-resolution photographs of Iraq from the 
KH-11 satellite, data that no other nation was allowed access to, as 
well as through US-supplied F-16 fighter bombers. Though the US 
government publicly condemned the bombing, in private, according 
to investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh: "Reagan was 
delighted.. .[and] very satisfied." Publicly, the US suspended the 
delivery of four additional F-16s fighter-bombers to the Israeli air 
force. Two months later, that suspension was quietly lifted. 9 

Such a tolerant attitude toward the unilateral use of force was not 
-^3~ j mt that °f a conservative Republican administration. Less than ten ~^y~ 

years after the Israeli air strikes, the US House of Representatives - in 
an effort led by liberal Democrats - passed a resolution endorsing 
the Israeli attack on Iraq and calling for the United States to seek the 
repeal of UN Security Council Resolution 487 that condemned it. 10 

The irony is that Israel's action may have spurred Iraq's effort to 
procure nuclear weapons rather than curbed it. Not only was the 
Osirak reactor not the focal point of Iraq's nuclear weapons program, 
the Israeli attack likely encouraged the Iraqis to redouble their efforts 
to create a nuclear deterrent and take greater efforts to evade detection 
of their primary nuclear development facilities. 11 

Israel's air strikes at Osirak paled in comparison with the much 
wider bombing attacks against suspected Iraqi nuclear-related sites 
ten years later by the United States during the Gulf War. Like the 
Israeli bombing, it violated both the spirit and the letter of the Nuclear 
Nonproliferation Treaty, and was the final demonstration of the 
United States' lack of support for law-based approaches to this 
problem. It also is a reflection of the unilateralist view now even 
more apparent in US foreign policy that advocates military action 
rather than reliance on international organizations, international 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


172 Iraq 

law, or diplomacy. Such a policy delegitimizes traditional international 
safeguards against nuclear proliferation in favor of an international 
anarchy where regional nuclear powers can launch pre-emptive attacks 
against potential rivals at will. To cite two examples: subsequent to 
the US bombing of suspected Iraqi nuclear facilities, both the South 
Korean and Indian governments began talking openly about taking 
unilateral actions against North Korea and Pakistan, respectively. 
Tragically, such lawless attacks, ostensibly aimed at preventing pro- 
liferation in other countries, create the very insecurity that motivates 
governments to develop their nuclear programs in the first place. 
Such attacks will likely set back rather than promote the cause of 
nuclear non-proliferation. Indeed, it appears that such North Korea's 
decision to renounce previous arms control agreements and move 
forward with its nuclear program was a direct result of the US decision 
to invade Iraq, apparently believing that it is important to develop 
a credible nuclear deterrent before being invaded. 

The US-led invasion of Iraq has been justified as necessary to enforce 
UN Security Council Resolution 687 and subsequent resolutions, 
which call for the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction 
and capability of producing such weapons in the future. However, 
the resolution places this demand on Iraq within the context of 
Xy ridding the entire region of WMDs and their delivery systems. 12 The ~Xij- 

United States, however, rejected such a formula, preferring a kind of 
nuclear apartheid within which the United States, Pakistan and Israel 
can maintain their nuclear arsenals in the region, but Iraq and other 
Arab countries are effectively barred from developing them. 

Furthermore, throughout the years of controversy regarding 
UNSCOM inspections of Iraq's potential weapons of mass destruction 
between 1991 and 1998, the Iraqis allowed the UN's International 
Atomic Energy Agency to continue regular inspections of Iraqi facilities 
and, in their final report on Iraq's nuclear program in 1998, recognized 
that it had effectively been dismantled. "There are no indications 
that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production 
of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance/' 
IAEA Director-General Mohammed Elbaradei wrote in a report to UN 
Secretary -General Kofi Annan. 13 During the five months between 
the return of IAEA inspectors and their withdrawal on the eve of the 
US invasion, they were unable to find any evidence of a renewal of 
Iraq's nuclear program. The United States has charged that some 
aluminum tubes had been discovered in the act of being imported 
into Iraq that could be used in some nuclear-related centrifuge efforts, 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 1 73 

although the use of such tubes are considered an extremely crude form 
of nuclear development and also have non-nuclear applications. 

Given the risks inherent in unilateral military action and other 
problems with US nuclear policy in the Middle East, why does the 
United States not pursue a more comprehensive program of nuclear 
nonproliferation? One answer may be that the primary concern of 
the United States is not preventing nuclear proliferation per se but 
preventing a challenge to its military domination in the post-Cold 
War world. With American strategic planners moving away from the 
prospect of a major East-West confrontation to one involving 
medium -intensity warfare against Third World regional powers, the 
desire for maintaining a nuclear monopoly by the major powers and 
certain allies like Israel becomes all the more important. 

Concern over the prospects of nuclear proliferation also serves as 
a pretext for the ongoing US military presence in the region and for 
attacking countries like Iraq that challenge this American dominance. 
Instead of seeing the potential acquisition of nuclear weapons by 
Iraq as an inevitable reaction to the American failure to support global 
nuclear disarmament, the United States - by labeling it as part of the 
threat from international terrorism - can justify its military inter- 
sT\ ventionism in the Middle East. st\ 

v Nuclear weapons are inherently weapons of terror, given their v 

level of devastation and their non-discriminate nature. Indeed, the 
nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union 
during the Cold War was often referred to as "the balance of terror/' 
Many people outside the United States see the atomic bombings of 
two Japanese cities in 1945 as among the greatest acts of terrorism 
in world history. American concerns, however, are not about the 
ability of the United States to threaten other countries with nuclear 
weapons but how others might threaten the United States. This can 
make it possible to portray American attacks against far-off countries 
as an act of self-defense. 

To cite one example, during the fall of 1 990 following Iraq's takeover 
of Kuwait, the senior Bush administration was struggling - with only 
limited success at that point - to rally a reluctant American public 
to support going to war. In November, Bush administration officials 
noticed that public-opinion polls indicated that the possibility of an 
imminent Iraqi procurement of nuclear weapons was the only issue 
that would lead a majority of Americans to support the war. 14 At that 
point, the Bush administration started issuing alarmist reports 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


174 Iraq 

regarding Iraq's nuclear potential, an issue that had not been seriously 
addressed until then. 

Similarly, President George W. Bush - in an attempt to justify his 
planned invasion of Iraq - told the American public that the IAEA 
in 1998 had warned that Saddam Hussein's regime was within six 
months of developing a nuclear weapon. When the IAEA denied it 
had ever made such a claim, Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan 
claimed that President Bush was referring to a 1991 IAEA report that 
was released prior to the dismantling of Iraq's nuclear facilities. 
However, the IAEA pointed out that they had never made such a 
claim in 1991 either. On 7 September 2002, President Bush cited an 
alleged IAEA "report" declaring that the Iraqis had undertaken new 
construction at several nuclear-related sites. However, the IAEA denied 
that any such report existed. 

Whatever the actual motivations for professed American concerns 
regarding nuclear proliferation, is nonproliferation in the Middle 
East even possible? Ironically, Iraq had endorsed calls for a nuclear- 
free zone in the Middle East, which had been opposed by the United 
States. Even if such pronouncements by the Iraqis had proven less 
than sincere, US support for the concept would have provided far 
greater legitimacy to efforts to control any potential nuclear threat 
Xy from Iraq than an invasion. In effect, the United States insists that ~x3~ 

nuclear weapons in the Middle East should be the exclusive domain 
of itself and Israel. Such a stance will most likely lead not to acqui- 
escence, but to a rush by other nations to counter this perceived 
American-Israeli threat, as witnessed by Iraq's ambitious nuclear 
program, aborted by the 1991 Gulf War and the subsequent 
inspections regime. 

Even worse, such a policy increases the likelihood of extremist 
groups - with or without government support - procuring and 
detonating a nuclear weapon against the United States. 


Ear more credible than charges on the eve of the US invasion that 
Iraq was capable of developing any nuclear capability were concerns 
over Iraq's development of biological and chemical weapons. 

When ABC television news correspondent Charles Glass revealed 
sites of Iraq's biological warfare programs in early 1989, when the 
United States was quietly supporting Iraq, the Defense Department 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 1 75 

denied the facts presented and the story essentially died. 13 Glass 
observed that it was not until a few years later - following Iraq's 
invasion of Kuwait, a US ally - that the State Department began 
issuing briefings on those same sites he had uncovered. 

Similarly, the March 1988 massacre at Halabja - where Iraqi 
government forces killed upwards of 5,000 civilians in that Kurdish 
town by gassing them with chemical weapons - was downplayed by 
the Reagan administration, even to the point of claiming that Iran, 
then the preferred American enemy, was actually responsible. The 
Halabja tragedy was not an isolated incident, as US officials were well 
aware at the time. UN reports in 1986 and 1987 documented Iraq's 
use of chemical weapons, which were confirmed both by investiga- 
tions from the CIA and from US embassy staff who visited Iraqi 
Kurdish refugees in Turkey. However, far from being particularly 
concerned about the ongoing repression, the use of chemical weapons 
and the potential use of nuclear and biological weapons, the United 
States was actually supporting the Iraqi government's efforts to procure 
materials necessary for the development of such an arsenal. It is in 
this light that later US concerns over Iraq's possession of WMDs 
ought to be considered. 

rf\ During the 1980s American companies, with US government rh 

backing, supplied Saddam Hussein's government with much of the 
raw materials for Iraq's chemical and biological weapons program as 
well as $1 billion worth of components necessary for the development 
of missiles and nuclear weapons. A Senate committee reported in 
1994 that American companies licensed by the US Commerce 
Department had shipped large quantities of biological materials 
usable in weapons production in Iraq. A major task of UNSCOM after 
the First Gulf War was to destroy the very weapons the United States 
had helped to build. This report noted that such trade continued at 
least until the end of the decade, despite evidence of Iraqi chemical 
warfare against Iranians and against Iraqi Kurds. 16 Much of this trade 
was no oversight. It was made possible because the Reagan admin- 
istration took Iraq off its list of countries supporting terrorism in 
1982, making it eligible to receive such items. This redesignation 
came in spite of Iraq's ongoing support of Abu Nidal and other terrorist 
groups. 17 

It was no secret to the Reagan administration that Iraq was using 
chemical weapons. A New York Times report shows that the US Defense 
Intelligence Agency provided detailed military assistance in a 1988 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


176 Iraq 

Iraqi military offensive against Iran in which they knew Iraq would 
be likely to use chemical weapons. According to Colonel Walter Lang, 
the senior intelligence officer at that time: "The use of gas on the 
battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern/' 18 
It is ironic that the fact that Saddam Hussein "used chemical weapons 
against his own people" was repeatedly emphasized as justification 
for going to war, when the United States was in part responsible for 
these gas attacks in the first place and appeared to have no qualms 
about their use. 

As late as December 1989, just eight months prior to Iraq's 
designation as an enemy for having invaded Kuwait, the Bush admin- 
istration pushed through new loans to the Iraqi government in order 
to facilitate US-Iraq trade. 19 Meanwhile, according to a 1992 Senate 
investigation, the Commerce Department repeatedly deleted and 
altered information on export licenses for trade with Iraq in order to 
hide potential military uses of American exports. zo Such policies raise 
serious questions as to why, if Iraq was really the threat to American 
security in 2003 that required the United States to invade in self- 
defense, the United States helped facilitate the development of its 
military capability and its acquisition of weapons of mass destruction 
A\ in the first place. A\ 

v The sincerity of the U S obsession with Iraq's potential threat to the v 

region, which began under the Clinton administration in 1997, was 
weakened by the fact that Iraq's military, including its real and 
potential WMD, was significantly stronger in the late 1980s than it 
was at the time of the US invasion. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein 
once really was a threat when he had his full complement of medium- 
range missiles, a functioning air force and a massive stockpile of 
chemical and biological weaponry and material. Yet, from the Carter 
administration through the Reagan administration through the first 
half of the senior Bush administration, the United States dismissed 
any potential strategic threat to the point of coddling Saddam's regime 
with overt economic subsidies and covert military support. Why 
then, beginning in late 1997, when Iraq had only a tiny percentage 
of its once-formidable military capability, did the United States start 
to portray Iraq as an intolerable threat? It is no surprise, under these 
circumstances, that so many Americans, rightly or wrongly, suspected 
President Clinton of manufacturing the crisis to distract the American 
public from the sex scandal then surrounding his office. Indeed, the 
December 1998 bombing campaign began on the very day of his 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 1 77 

scheduled impeachment by the House of Representatives, which, in 
response, postponed the vote. 

A review of the chronology leading tip to that American military 
campaign is revealing. 

In November 1997, the temporary Iraqi banning of American par- 
ticipants from UNSCOM inspection teams led the United States to 
mobilize its armed forces for a major bombing campaign, which was 
suspended when the Russians were able to negotiate an agreement 
in which the Iraqis rescinded the ban. Soon thereafter the Clinton 
Administration began to raise concerns about Iraq's refusal to allow 
UNSCOM inspectors to visit so-called "presidential sites/' a liberally 
defined series of buildings and grounds across the country that Iraq 
claimed were used by government officials. The United States and 
some UNSCOM officials believed that the reason for the Iraqi restric- 
tions was that anthrax and other biological warfare agents might be 
under production within some of those sites. The Iraqis, on the other 
hand, saw granting unfettered access by inspectors as yet another 
intrusion on their sovereign rights. Given that a number of prominent 
American political leaders from both parties had called openly for 
the assassination of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader's reluctance to 
A\ allow Americans into presidential palaces may also have been a result A\ 

v of concerns that such access would make him and other top officials v 

personally vulnerable. Furthermore, the Iraqis had complained that, 
despite a stated policy of avoiding staffing UNSCOM with experts from 
"intelligence providing states/' there was a disproportionate number 
of Americans involved in the inspections, who - the Iraqis noted 
periodically - deliberately prolonged the process and possibly provided 
information to the US military. zl 

Even those in the West who were skeptical about Iraq's alleged 
concerns were nonetheless suspicious of American motives in raising 
the issue. Although such Iraqi restrictions on these "presidential sites" 
had existed since the beginning of the sanctions regime nearly seven 
years earlier, the United States announced only in January 1998 that 
it had become an intolerable violation of UN Security Council 
Resolution 687 that might necessitate a sustained bombing campaign 
against Iraq. By February a large-scale US military assault seemed likely. 
However, United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan was able to 
broker a deal late that month that met the United Nations' insistence 
that the sites be open to UN inspectors, but with an additional 
diplomatic presence in recognition of the sites' special status. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


178 Iraq 

At the end of October Iraq imposed new restrictions on UNSCOM 
as a result of revelations that the United States was using UNSCOM 
illegally as a vehicle for spying on the Iraqi government. 22 On 10 
November, in response to pressure from President Clinton, UNSCOM 
chairman Richard Butler announced his decision to pull UNSCOM 
out of Iraq without the required authorization from the Security 
Council. Iraq then performed a U-turn and agreed to allow the 
inspectors to resume their activities. The United States, however, was 
eager to launch military action, particularly by mid-December in 
order to take advantage of overlapping American military units on 
rotation in the Persian Gulf, which made it a particularly auspicious 
time for major air strikes. Clinton's National Security Adviser, Sandy 
Berger, met with Butler on 30 November, when the UNSCOM director 
was instructed to provoke Iraq to break its agreement to cooperate 
fully with UNSCOM. Without consulting the UN Security Council 
as required, Butler announced to the Iraqis that he was nullifying 
previously agreed-upon modalities dealing with sensitive sites that 
limited the number of UNSCOM inspectors. He chose the Ba'ath 
Party headquarters in Baghdad as the site to demand unfettered 
access, a veryunlikely place to store weapons of mass destruction but 
one very likely to provoke a negative reaction. The Iraqis refused to 
Xy allow the large group into their party headquarters, but did allow ~x3~ 

them unrestricted access to a series of sensitive military installations. 
At that point, Butler and the Clinton administration unilaterally 
ordered the UNSCOM inspectors out of Iraq. Back in New York, 
American officials then helped Butler draft a report blaming Iraq 
exclusively for the impasse in a late-night session at the US Mission 
across from the United Nations. 23 As the UN Security Council was 
meeting in an emergency special session on how to implement a 
unified response to Iraq's non-cooperation, the United States - with 
support from Great Britain - launched an unauthorized four-day 
series of sustained air strikes against Iraq in what became known as 
Operation Desert Fox. In response, Iraq refused UNSCOM re-entry. 
Subsequently, the Clinton and Bush administrations - echoed by 
much of the US media - claimed that UNSCOM inspectors were 
"expelled from Iraq" by Saddam Hussein as a means of bolstering 
the claim that the Iraqis must be hiding weapons of mass destruction 
that require US military action to uncover and destroy. 

In reality, in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War and the subsequent 
inspections regime, virtually any aggressive military potential by Iraq 
had been destroyed. Before UNSCOM was withdrawn, its agents 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 1 79 

reportedly oversaw the destruction of 38,000 chemical weapons, 
480,000 liters of live chemical-weapons agents, 48 missiles, six missile 
launchers, 30 missile warheads modified to carry chemical or biological 
agents and hundreds of items of related equipment with the capability 
to produce chemical weapons. In late 1997 Butler reported that they 
had made "significant progress" in tracking Iraq's chemical weapons 
program and that 81 7 of the 81 9 Soviet-supplied long-range missiles 
had been accounted for. There were also believed to be a couple of 
dozen Iraqi-made ballistic missiles unaccounted for, but these were 
of questionable caliber. Z4 

In September 2002 Iraq agreed to a return of United Nations 
inspectors under the new United Nations Monitoring, Verification 
and Inspection Commission (UNMOV1C) program. At this point, 
however, the United States- that had been citing Iraq's refusal to allow 
inspectors to return as a major reason for invading the country - 
suddenly announced that allowing inspectors in was not enough 
and that the United States would invade anyway. In an effort to 
legitimize such an attack, however, the United States introduced a 
new resolution usurping previous US-backed resolutions. These new 
provisions included the right of a US official (and officials from other 
permanent UN Security Council members) to accompany inspectors, 
-^3~ the ri ght f° r tn e United States (or other Security Council members) ~^y~ 

to determine whether Iraq was in material breach of the resolution 
and respond militarily, and other provisions that were seen as being 
designed to delay the resumption of inspections, result in an Iraq 
rejection or otherwise pave the way for a US invasion under the cover 
of the United Nations. 

A modified version of the US proposal was passed unanimously 
by the United Nations Security Council as Resolution 1441 in 
November which required unlimited and immediate access to any 
and all sites UNMOVTC and the IAEA demanded. Despite Iraq allowing 
such access, the United States called for an end of inspections the 
following March and launched its invasion. The major area of alleged 
Iraqi non-compliance with the resolution involved not inspections, 
but a failure by Iraq to account fully for some biological and chemical 
agents that the government was believed to possess. While there was 
no proof that Iraq still had this proscribed materiel, the United States 
insisted that it was up to Iraq to prove it did not possess such materiel. 

Combined with a new inspections regime and ongoing satellite 
and air reconnaissance, most arms-control experts believed it would 
be extraordinarily difficult for Iraq to hide its chemical and nuclear 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

180 Iraq 

weapons development, which could then be destroyed by air strikes, 
though some leftover stores of chemical weapons from the 1980s 
could possibly be hidden somewhere. The development of biological 
weapons, by contrast, would be much easier to conceal due to the small 
amount of space needed for their manufacture and the fact that Iraq 
already had the seed stock for such lethal materiel. However, there 
are serious questions as to whether Iraq possessed the complex delivery 
systems necessary for an offensive biological weapons capability. 

One problem with the two inspection regimes was that the United 
States never offered any incentive for Iraq to cooperate with 
inspections. From the outset, the United States made clear that even 
total cooperation with UNSCOM would not lead to an end to the 
sanctions. The senior President Bush's National Security Adviser, 
Robert Gates, stated: "Iraqis will be made to pay the price while 
Saddam Hussein is in power. Any easing of sanctions will be considered 
only when there is a new government. " zs Similarly, Secretary of State 
Albright noted in 1997: "We do not agree with those nations who 
argue that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons 
of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted. " Z6 President Clinton, 
in reference to Saddam Hussein's continued rule, declared: "Sanctions 
will be there until the end of time, or as long as he [Hussein] lasts. " Z7 
-^3~ Finally, when the junior Bush administration - with the backing of ~^y~ 

a large bipartisan majority in Congress - declared in the fall of 2002 
that it would invade Iraq with or without inspections, it became 
apparent that inspections were never really the issue. 

The preference of the United States for using military rather than 
diplomatic means to address the risk from the development of 
weapons of mass destruction is symbolic of the failure to recognize 
the paradox of the growing militarization of US Middle East policy 
- the more the United States has militarized the Middle East, the less 
secure the United States and its allies have become. As long as the 
United States fails to recognize that its efforts to militarize the region 
have backfired, the threat of violence, terrorism and war - even 
involving weapons or mass destruction - will paradoxically but almost 
certainly only get worse. 

Finally, Saddam Hussein for long demonstrated that he cared first 
and foremost about his own survival. He presumably recognized that 
any effort to use weapons of mass destruction would inevitably lead 
to his own destruction. This is why he did not use them during the 
1991 Gulf War while being attacked by the largest coalition of forces 
ever arrayed against a single nation in world history. He was willing 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 181 

to use chemical weapons against Iranian forces - with apparent col- 
laboration from the US Defense Intelligence Agency - because he 
knew Iran had no allies. He was willing to use chemical weapons 
against Kurdish civilians - with the help of a US cover-up - because 
he knew the Kurds had no allies. The United States was never able 
to put forward any evidence as to why he would have ever used 
weapons of mass destruction in an offensive military operation in 
full knowledge of the consequences. 


In the midst of strong anti-interventionist sentiment among the 
American public at the height of the Vietnam War, an overt large-scale 
military presence was not politically feasible. However, the Nixon 
administration had had some success in curbing anti-Vietnam War 
protests through its "Vietnamization" of the war. That is, by increasing 
the role of South Vietnamese conscripts fighting on the ground and 
by escalating the American air war, American troop strength could 
be reduced, resulting in fewer American casualties and smaller draft 
rolls, even as violence against the Vietnamese escalated. As a result, 
in 1971, President Richard Nixon decided to expand this concept 
-^3~ through the Nixon Doctrine - also known as the Guam Doctrine ~^y~ 

(named after the Pacific island where President Nixon first announced 
the policy) - which institutionalized this "surrogate strategy" of 
Vietnamization on a global level. According to Nixon, "we shall 
furnish military and economic assistance when requested. ..But we shall 
look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary respon- 
sibility of providing the manpower for its defense. " Z8 

The Persian Gulf became the first testing ground for using a regional 
gendarmerie to promote US interests, essentially an extension of the 
Vietnamization program of training and arming locals to enforce the 
US security agenda. The Shah of Iran owed his throne to the United 
States, had lots of money from the rise in oil prices with which to 
purchase weapons, and a desire to feed his megalomania - all of 
which made him a well-suited surrogate. Throughout the 1970s the 
United States sold over $20 billion in advanced weaponry to the Shah 
(with an additional $20 billion on order). In addition, there were as 
many as 3,000 American advisers and trainers - mostly working for 
private defense contractors- in Iran in order to transform the Iranian 
armed forces into a sophisticated fighting force capable of counter- 
insurgency operations. This policy was successfully implemented 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


182 Iraq 

when Iranian troops - with American and British support - intervened 
in support of the Sultan of Oman against a leftist rebellion in the 
Dhofar province in the mid-1970s. In 1979, however, Iran's Islamic 
revolution brought this policy crashing down, replacing the compliant 
Shah with a regime stridently opposed to Western interests. 

In response to this shocking recognition of the limits of surrogate 
strategy, the Carter Doctrine was announced in 1980. The United 
States would no longer rely on potentially unstable allies and their 
armed forces, announced President Carter, but would now intervene 
directly through the Rapid Deployment Force, later integrated into 
the Central Command. An agreement was reached with the Saudi 
government whereby, in exchange for the sale of an integrated package 
of highly sophisticated weaponry, the Saudis would build and pay 
for an elaborate system of command, naval and air facilities large 
enough to sustain US forces in intensive regional combat. For example, 
the controversial 1 981 sale of the sophisticated AWACS airborne radar 
system to Saudi Arabia was to be a linchpin of an elaborate commu- 
nications system comparable to that of NATO. According to a 
Washington Post report at that time (then denied by the Pentagon), 
this was to be part of a grand defense strategy for the Middle Eastern 
oil fields that included an ambitious plan to build bases in Saudi 
Xy Arabia, equipped and waiting for American forces to use. Z9 ~x3~ 

In the event of war, American forces would be deployed so quickly 
and with such overwhelming force that the casualty ratio would be 
highly favorable and the length of the fighting would be short. The 
result would be that disruptive anti-war protests from the American 
public would be minimal. This was of particular concern since 
Congress had recently passed the War Powers Act, whereby the 
legislative branch could effectively veto a president's decision to send 
American troops into combat after 60 days. Though the exact scenario 
in which US forces would be deployed could not have been predicted 
at the time, the Carter Doctrine made possible the decisive military 
victories over Iraq in 1991 and 2003. 

During the Iran-Iraq War between 1980 and 1988, the United 
States armed one side and then the other as a means of insuring that 
neither of the two countries could become dominant in the region. 
When the Clinton administration came to office in 1993, the policy 
was shifted to that of "dual containment/' seeking to isolate both 
countries, which the United States saw as potentially dangerous and 
destabilizing forces in this strategically important region, labeling 
them both "rogue states/' 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 1 83 

As defined by US national security managers, rogue states are 
countries that possess substantial military capability, seek the 
acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and violate what are seen 
as international "norms/' President Clinton's first National Security 
Adviser, Anthony Lake, put the matter clearly: 

Our policy must face the reality of recalcitrant and outlaw states 
that not only choose to remain outside the family [of nations] but 
also assault its basic values... [and] exhibit a chronic inability to 
engage constructively with the outside world. 

Lake argued further that, just as the United States took the lead in 
"containing" the Soviet Union, it must now also bear the "special 
responsibility" to "neutralize" and "contain" these "outlaw states." 30 
In addition to Iraq and Iran, Libya and Sudan were also widely 
considered as rogue states, with Syria sometimes included on the list 
by certain foreign policy hawks. (The only countries outside the 
region given such a label were communist North Korea and Cuba.) 
Despite concerns voiced by the US government regarding Iran and 
Iraq's human rights record and violations of international norms, 
A\ neither country was unique in the region in such transgressions. For A\ 

v example, due to its powerful armed forces, nuclear arsenal, conquests v 

of neighboring countries, and violations of human rights and other 
international legal standards, a case could be made that Israel - 
America's chief partner in the region and the world's largest recipient 
of US economic and military support - would also fit this definition. 
Yet the label of "rogue state" has a clear function in US foreign policy 
independent of any objective criteria. Iran and Iraq are the only two 
countries in the Middle East that combine a large population, adequate 
water resources and oil wealth to be major independent players with 
the ability to challenge American hegemony in the region. These 
two countries have been labeled "rogue states" ultimately because of 
their failure to accept the post-Cold War order that requires accepting 
the American strategic and economic agenda. In previous decades 
these countries engaged in large-scale military procurement with the 
support or acquiescence of the United States as well as in major 
human rights abuses without American objections. Once their 
cooperation with the United States ended and their hostility toward 
American interests emerged, their long ignored human-rights abuses 
and militarization became a focal point for their vilification. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

184 Iraq 

The level of repression these two regimes have demonstrated against 
their own citizens as well as their histories of aggression and subversion 
against their neighbors makes such rationalizations for US policy 
easier to accept. However, a careful analysis of American policy in 
the Gulf reveals that concerns over the security of allied Gulf 
monarchies from potential hostile actions by both Iran and Iraq 
appear to be greatly exaggerated. Both Iran and Iraq are also very 
dependent on the sale of oil for their own prosperity and would seem 
to have little incentive to threaten the free flow of this crucial export. 
Furthermore, the strategic balance in the past decade has swung 
decisively in favor of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the 
West, placing the pro-Western monarchies in a more comfortable 
strategic position than was even imaginable a little more than a 
decade ago. 


Modern Iraq is a creation of British colonialists who established 
control over the territory following the fall of the Ottoman Empire 
in 1918, essentially creating the country from three Ottoman 
-^3~ provinces. A nationalist coup in 1958 overthrew the pro-British ~^y~ 

monarch, limiting Western influence in the country and shifting the 
ideological orientation toward a left-wing nationalism. The Ba'ath 
Party, also nationalist and socialist in orientation, first seized power 
in 1963. Saddam Hussein rose to prominence between 1979 and 
1982, imposing what was essentially a totalitarian state under his 
rule and shifting Iraq's pro -Soviet orientation more toward neutrality. 
France, Great Britain and the United States joined the Soviets in 
recognizing Iraq's importance in the regional balance of power. All 
maintained a largely cooperative relationship with Saddam Hussein's 
exceptionally oppressive regime, much to the chagrin of human- 
rights advocates. While US officials never considered the Iraqi regime 
an American ally, as some critics have claimed, Iraq was nevertheless 
seen as a strategic asset with which the United States could cooperate 
throughout the regime's dramatic military build-up in the 1980s. 

For years, Middle East experts, human-rights supporters, and many 
others called on the United States to get tough with Saddam Hussein's 
regime. Iraq's invasion of Iran, support for international terrorism, 
and large-scale human rights violations were all valid grounds for 
sanctions. Perhaps most significant was Iraq's use of chemical warfare 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 1 85 

against both Iranian troops and the country's civilian Kurdish 
population during the 1 980s - by far the largest such use of these illegal 
weapons since World War I. The response of the world's nations was 
a major test as to whether international law would be upheld through 
the imposition of stringent sanctions or other measures to challenge 
this dangerous precedent. The United States, along with much of the 
world community, failed. US agricultural subsidies and other economic 
aid flowed into Iraq and American officials looked the other way as 
many of these funds were laundered into purchasing military 
equipment. The United States sent an untold amount of indirect aid 
- largely through Kuwait and other Arab countries - which enabled 
Iraq to receive weapons and technology to increase its war-making 
capacity. 31 

When a 1988 Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report 
brought to light Saddam Hussein's policy of widespread killings of 
Kurdish civilians in northern Iraq, Senator Claiborne Pell introduced 
the Prevention of Genocide Act to put pressure on the Iraqi 
government. However, the Reagan administration successfully moved 
to have the measure killed. 

This history of appeasement raises serious questions regarding the 
sincerity of both the strategic and moral concerns subsequently raised 
-^3~ by US officials about both the nature of the Iraqi regime and its threat ~^y~ 

against its neighbors. 

In July 1990, with Saddam Hussein making direct threats against 
Kuwait, the Bush administration again blocked congressional efforts 
to impose modest sanctions on Iraq. The US ambassador, April Glaspie, 
a well-respected career diplomat, told the Iraqi dictator that the 
United States was neutral regarding the dispute. This stated neutrality, 
combined with years of appeasement, very likely gave Saddam Hussein 
the impression that he would be able to get away with an invasion 
of Iraq's southern neighbor. 

Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August, taking over the small emirate 
within hours. The royal family fled and any resistance to the Iraqi 
takeover was severely repressed. The United Nations Security Council 
quickly adopted Resolution 660, condemning the invasion and 
demanding Iraq's immediate withdrawal. No other member of the 
Arab League supported the invasion and most vehemently opposed 
it. But most also wanted to keep it as an inter-Arab concern and avoid 
war if possible. Within days of Iraq's takeover, Arab leaders were 
apparently very close to convincing Iraq to withdraw. However, the 
United States decided to send large numbers of American troops into 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

186 Iraq 

neighboring Saudi Arabia in response to Iraq's takeover, allegedly as 
a deterrent against further Iraqi aggression. According to then Crown 
Prince Hassan of Jordan, the American-Saudi decision to implement 
what became known as "Operation Desert Shield" scuttled a tentative 
agreement he had made with Saddam Hussein to withdraw from 
Kuwait. 32 In return for the Arab-sponsored withdrawal, there may have 
been some compromises - perhaps on the exact location of the 
disputed desert border separating Iraq and Kuwait or a referendum 
on the future of Kuwait's monarchy. However, it appears that Iraq 
could have been convinced to withdraw from Kuwait within weeks 
of its invasion had the United States allowed Arab diplomacy to run 
its course. The Gulf War and the resulting humanitarian catastrophe 
could probably have been avoided. 

Instead, then Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, flew to Saudi 
Arabia to try to convince Saudi leaders that a major build-up of Iraqi 
forces in southern Kuwait indicated an imminent invasion of Saudi 
Arabia. He argued that the kingdom therefore needed to accept large 
numbers of American forces on its soil as a deterrent. While such an 
action by the Iraqis cannot be completely ruled out, it appears 
extremely unlikely: Iraq has never had territorial claims against Saudi 
Arabia as it did with Kuwait, its troops had dug in to fortified defensive 
Xy positions immediately upon entering Kuwait, and it chose not move ~x3~ 

into Saudi Arabia prior to the arrival of sufficient Western forces to 
produce a credible deterrent. More significantly, the St. Petersburg 
Times got hold of satellite footage of the area from that critical period 
soon after the Iraqis seized Kuwait, and, contrary to US government 
statements, there was no evidence of Iraqi troops massing on the 
border. The newspaper showed the photos to Peter Zimmerman, 
formerly of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and an 
unidentified Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, who noted, "We 
didn't see anything to indicate an Iraqi force in Kuwait of even 20% 
the size the administration claimed/' 33 The newspaper asked the 
Pentagon to present evidence that would support its contention that 
Iraq was preparing to invade Saudi Arabia. It refused. Furthermore, 
Iraq apparently only had sent enough troops to suppress the Kuwaiti 
population initially, dramatically increasing the number of its troops 
only after aiiied forces arrived in the region. In any case, the decision 
to bring in American troops enabled Saddam Hussein to project 
himself not as the aggressor who had just invaded a small neighboring 
country, but as the defender of the Arab world against an army of 
Wes tern i m peri a li s ts . 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 187 

In an interesting historical footnote, Osama bin Laden - then back 
in Saudi Arabia after fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan - 
had been strongly denouncing Saddam Hussein for months and even 
warned the Saudi government that Iraq could be on the verge of 
invading Kuwait. The Saudis sought to silence him, but he persisted 
in his warnings. When Iraq did invade, Bin Laden sent an "I told 
you so" letter to King Fahd, but promised that he could organize a 
massive international force of mujahadin to repel the Iraqi invaders. 
In what Bin Laden would later call "the most shocking moment of 
his life/' Fahd rejected this offer of pan-Islamic solidarity against the 
Iraqi invasion and instead accepted the American plan. 34 

Even after US troops entered the region, there were possibilities for 
a negotiated settlement. However, there was no American attempt 
to negotiate. The only direct contact between the two nations prior 
to the outbreak of the war was one meeting in Geneva at the foreign 
ministry level a week before hostilities broke out. There, Secretary of 
State James Baker presented a letter written by President Bush 
informing Saddam Hussein that his only choice was to capitulate 
without negotiation or be crushed by force. In the letter, which was 
rejected by Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz for its undiplomatic 
language, Bush stated: "There can be no reward for aggression. Nor 
-^3~ wlu there be any negotiation. Principle cannot be compromised/' 33 ~^y~ 

Specialists on the negotiation process were very critical of US conduct 
prior to the war, primarily noting how the United States never gave 
the Iraqis any opportunity to save face. Says Harvard Law School 
professor Roger Fisher, Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, 
from the Iraqi perspective 

The choice of staying in Kuwait outweighed the choice of 
withdrawal because there was no reason to believe that the US 
would remove its forces from Saudi Arabia after Iraqi left Kuwait, 
that UN sanctions against Iraq would be lifted after withdrawal, 
that Palestinian interests would be linked to withdrawal, that Iraqi 
access to the sea would be ensured, etc. Thus, Hussein's position 
on this issue becomes understandable. Knowing this, something 
could have been done to reduce his uncertainty about the conse- 
quences of the decision to withdrawal. 36 

There were certainly a number of ways the United States may have 
been able to negotiate an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait and other 
legitimate security concerns short of war, but these were not pursued. 37 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

188 Iraq 

The United Nations Security Council imposed comprehensive 
military and economic sanctions on Iraq in the aftermath of its 
invasion of Kuwait, but they were unsuccessful in convincing the 
Iraqis to withdraw. These pre-war sanctions would have probably 
worked with time, however. The CIA estimated that UN sanctions 
blocked 90 percent of Iraqi imports and 97 percent of Iraqi exports; 38 
no country so heavily dependent on trade can survive very long 
under those conditions. This was a much higher rate of compliance 
than what has existed in the far more controversial post-war sanctions 
regime. In Iraq during this period, there were long gas lines in a 
country that had been a major exporter of oil; there were chronic 
shortages of basic foodstuffs, such as rice, bread, and sugar, which 
are staples in the Iraqi diet; there were breakdowns from lavatories 
to automobiles because of a lack of spare parts; in a country with a 
largely planned economy that had controlled prices, hyper -inflation 
was ignited. 39 

The sanctions were working materially, in severely limiting imports 
and exports and thereby causing great economic hardship, but they 
were not working politically. The reasons were two-fold: first, the 
United States insisted that sanctions would continue even if Iraq 
withdrew from Kuwait. Viewed from Iraq's perspective, why withdraw 
-^3~ ^ sanctions were to continue anyway? Second, the Iraqis were faced ~^y~ 

with a simultaneous military threat. When a country is faced with 
an external threat to its security - in this case, half a million troops 
poised to attack across their southern border - people are willing to 
tolerate more economic deprivation than they might otherwise as 
they rally around the flag. 

Had sanctions been imposed some years ago, in response to Saddam 
Hussein's earlier crimes - when he invaded Iran in 1980 or when he 
first used chemical weapons soon thereafter - it is likely he would 
not have invaded Kuwait, because he would have known there would 
be severe economic consequences as a result. Or, had the sanctions 
been applied following his invasion of Kuwait but with an offer to 
lift them upon withdrawal and without a simultaneous military 
threat, he likely would have withdrawn prior to the outbreak of 
hostilities. War was not the only option. 

However, the United States systematically rejected a series of peace 
overtures by the French, the Soviets, and the Yemenis, favoring instead 
a massive military response. Indeed, in the weeks before the launch 
of the bombing on 16 January 1991, the talk in Washington of a 
"nightmare scenario" was in reference to an Iraqi withdrawal from 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 1 89 

Kuwait without having to go to war. 40 The US position was that, 
without a war, Saddam Hussein's regime would remain with its military 
assets intact, free to sell its oil, popular among some segments of the 
Arab world's population and still able to threaten its neighbors. This 
was considered unacceptable. However, Saddam Hussein could only 
have become the threat he did with the help of the United States and 
various European countries during the previous years. As a result, 
the need to destroy Iraq's potential for future aggression through war 
was unnecessary, since preventing the regime's future development 
as a threat required only that the United States and others in the 
international community cut off Iraq's acquisition of weapons. 

As a result, just as the United States had downplayed Iraq's potential 
threat previously when the regime was seen as a potential asset, it 
then began to exaggerate Iraq's potential threat, as exemplified by 
the senior President Bush's characterization of Saddam Hussein as 
"another Hitler/' The Hitler bogeyman has been used repeatedly to 
justify attacks by Western nations against the Third World. Prior to 
their invasion of Egypt in 1956, the British and Erench insisted that 
Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser was comparable to Hitler. In the 
1960s the United States argued that without a major war in Vietnam, 
rf\ the Communists would then try to take over the rest of Southeast rh 

Asia as the Nazis did in Europe, as part of an effort to take over the 
world. 41 In the 1980s, Secretary of State George Schultz claimed the 
Sandinista government of Nicaragua was like the Nazis in that they 
were going to invade the rest of Central America if they were not 
overthrown. Such terminology was used again in order to frighten a 
skeptical American public into supporting a war against Iraq. As an 
example of the extent of this manipulation, a photograph of Saddam 
Hussein on the cover of the influential New Republic magazine was 
airbrushed in such way that his long moustache was significantly 
shortened so he would look more like Adolf Hitler. 42 

Similarly, those who opposed an invasion of Iraq were compared 
with those who supported the appeasement of Nazi Germany in the 
1930s. Yet, the use of force to reverse Iraq's conquest of Kuwait, the 
subsequent sanctions and inspections regimes could hardly be 
considered appeasement. 

The fact is, however, that Iraq never had the industrial capacity, 
the self-sustaining economy, the domestic arms industry, the 
population base, the coherent ideology or political mobilization, the 
powerful allies, or any of the necessary components for large-scale 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


190 Iraq 

military conquest as did the German, Italian, and Japanese fascists 
of the 1930s and 1940s. Though better off than most of the non- 
Western world, Iraq was still a Third World country. While the regime 
certainly could do damage to its own population and territories on 
its immediate border, it never had the capability of seizing or holding 
on to large amounts of territory. 

The use of such hyperbole by the first Bush administration was 
successful not just in getting a reluctant Congress and public to 
support the decision to go to war. It also served to discredit domestic 
anti-war critics who incorrectly predicted high American casualties. 
Historically, armed forces have exaggerated their own strength and 
minimized their opponents' strengths in order to convince their 
enemies not to engage in an act of aggression. This has been one of 
the foundations of the theory of deterrence. However, recent decades 
have witnessed the reversal of this. The US government has consis- 
tently exaggerated the military force of its opponents - be they Soviet, 
Nicaraguan, or Iraqi - and downplayed the ability of the United States 
and its allies to resist or overcome it. From the perspective of 
deterrence, this would be totally foolish, since to exaggerate your 
enemy's strength while understating your own ability to resist it 
would be to invite attack. However, if a country's national security 
Xy 1S n °t really at stake and the primary goal of the government is to ~x3~ 

convince the public that it is worth diverting a large amount of the 
nation's resources to military production and/or to engage in a war, 
making such claims then makes sense. In addition, after the Bush 
administration deliberately exaggerated the strength of the enemy 
and US forces ended up defeating Iraq soundly with minimal American 
casualties, it came across as an incredible victory. As a result, the 
popularity of the US military and President Bush soared. In any case, 
this one-sided military victory led the American public - who initially 
had been very skeptical, with only 47 per cent of the public favoring 
going to war at the end of 1990 -to support it overwhelmingly, with 
over 80 per cent expressing their approval three months later. 

There was impressive unity in the international community in 
opposing Iraq's aggression against Kuwait and the pre-war sanctions 
were almost universally respected. However, there was not as much 
international support for the US-led war effort as claimed at the time. 
Within the Arab world, only the unpopular Gulf monarchs, Syrian 
dictator Hafez Assad (a bitter rival of Saddam Hussein despite sharing 
his Ba'athist roots), and the autocratic rulers of the economically 
dependent North African regimes of Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 191 

supported the war. No other Arab leader supported the US-led military 
campaign against Iraq. 43 The primary support for the American 
military operation came from Western Europe. 

Even the United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing 
the use of force, passed on 29 November, was not as clear an indication 
of international support as it was made out to be by the United States. 
In return for the Chinese not vetoing the resolution, the US dropped 
trade sanctions imposed following the brutal suppression of the pro- 
democracy movement in 1989 and approved new loans. In return 
for the Soviet Union's support, the United States agreed not to discuss 
the Soviet repression in the Baltic republics in the upcoming Paris 
Peace Conference. Colombia and Zaire, non-permanent members, 
were promised increased aid and extensions of loans. When Yemen, 
also a non-permanent member, refused to buckle under similar 
pressure, the US canceled $70 million in aid scheduled to go to that 
impoverished country. 44 Even among the many Arabs and other 
Muslims who opposed Iraq's conquest of Kuwait and wanted it 
reversed, the US-led war was seen as avoidable, unnecessary, and 
more of an excuse for a major US-led military operation than a genuine 
American desire to support international law and stop aggression. 


In a military campaign dubbed "Operation Desert Storm/' the United 
States and its allies began bombing Iraq on 16 January 1991, one 
day after the United Nations-imposed deadline for Iraqi withdrawal 
from Kuwait. It was almost exclusively an air war until American 
ground troops entered the fighting in late February, liberating Kuwait 
and occupying a large swath of southern Iraq in slightly more than 
four days. 

In mid-February, after four weeks of bombing and prior to the 
launch of the allied ground assault, Iraq accepted a Soviet peace 
proposal in full and agreed to withdraw from Kuwait in compliance 
with UN Security Council Resolution 660. The United States, however, 
rejected the deal and pledged to continue prosecuting the war. Even 
as Iraqi forces finally began withdrawing from Kuwait, the United 
States continued its assault in violation of provisions of the Fourth 
Geneva Convention that outlaw the killing of soldiers who are out 
of combat. 43 Rather than the one-sided victory in the ground war 
being exclusively the result of American military prowess, it appears 
that most of the Iraqis were evacuating or already had evacuated 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


192 Iraq 

their positions when the US ground forces arrived. The Washington 
Post confirmed that tens of thousands of Iraqi troops had withdrawn 
a full 36 hours before the first allied forces reached Kuwait City. These 
forces, too, were pursued relentlessly by the American assault. 
Thousands of retreating soldiers as well as some civilian refugees and 
hostages were slaughtered as they fled northward on what became 
known as "the highway of death/' American pilots referred to it as 
a "turkey shoot/' 46 

Though the United Nations had only authorized member states 
to do what was necessary to rid Iraqi forces from Kuwait, the United 
States was determined to inflict a devastating blow to Iraq's infrastruc- 
ture through what became, in a period of just six weeks, one of the 
heaviest bombing campaigns in the history of war. Even Saddam 
Hussein's most strident critics in the Gulf were offended at the level 
of overkill, particularly what was inflicted upon Iraq's civilian 
population, unwilling conscripts, and the country's non-military 
infrastructure. 47 By attacking roads, bridges, factories, irrigation 
systems, power stations, waterworks, and government offices, the 
US-led military offensive against Iraq went well beyond what was 
necessary to drive Iraqi occupation forces from Kuwait. 

According to a Washington Post report soon after the war, 

Many of the targets were chosen only secondarily to contribute to 
the military defeat of Iraq. ...Military planners hoped the bombing 
would amplify the economic and psychological impact of inter- 
national sanctions on Iraqi society Because of these goals, damage 

to civilian structures and interests, invariably described by briefers 
during the war as "collateral" and unintended, were sometimes 

neither They deliberately did great harm to Iraq's ability to 

support itself as an industrial society. 48 

Most of Saddam Hussein's forces were conscripts. Many were 
opponents of Saddam Hussein, who may have opposed the invasion 
of Kuwait and been as unwilling as many American draftees were in 
Vietnam. In fact, the Iraqi dictator deliberately placed a dispropor- 
tionate number of Kurds, Assyrian Christians, Shi'ites, and other 
groups traditionally opposed to his rule on the front lines, hoping 
that they would bear the brunt of the casualties. The United States 
obliged, killing tens of thousands of them, even as they retreated. The 
result is that more opponents of the Iraqi government were killed by 
six weeks of US attacks than in the previous twenty years of Saddam 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 1 93 

Hussein's repression. There are many stories by American troops of 
how desperate Iraqi soldiers were to surrender. While many were able 
to do so, the majority were never given that chance. Large numbers 
were buried alive by high-speed US army bulldozers. 

Most estimates put the Iraqi death toll in the Gulf War in the range 
of 100,000. Due to the increased accuracy of aerial warfare, the 
proportion of Iraqi civilians killed was much less than it had been 
in previous air campaigns. At the same time, because the bombing 
consisted of tens of thousands of sorties, the absolute numbers were 
quite high. Most estimates of the civilian death toll are approximately 
15,000. 49 It should be noted that even the so-called "smart bombs" 
had at most a 60 percent accuracy rate - Americans did not see any 
footage of the 40 percent that missed their targets, sometimes by 
miles. It should also be noted that only 9 per cent of the bombs 
dropped were these laser -guided weapons. 30 

Meanwhile, the long-suppressed Kurds in the north and Shi'ites 
in the south launched a rebellion against Saddam Hussein's regime 
at the end of the war. They initially made major advances, only to 
be crushed in a counter-attack by Iraqi government forces. Despite 
President Bush calling on the people of Iraq to rise up against the 
dictatorship, US forces - which at that time occupied the southern 
-^3~ frftli °f the country - did nothing to support the post-war rebellion ~^y~ 

and stood by while thousands of Iraqi Kurds, Shi'ites, and others 
were slaughtered. In the ceasefire agreement at the end of the war, 
the United States made a conscious decision to exclude Iraqi helicopter 
gunships from the ban on Iraqi military air traffic. These were the 
very weapons that proved so decisive in crushing the rebellions. It 
appeared to be a repeat of what happened only 15 years earlier. After 
goading the Kurds into an armed uprising with the promise of military 
support, the United States abandoned them precipitously as part of 
an agreement with the Baghdad government for a territorial 
compromise favorable to Iran regarding the Shatt al-Arab waterway. 31 
Thousands were slaughtered. 

The reason that the United States allowed the Iraqi regime to crush 
the post-war rebellions was another triumph of political interest over 
principle. The Bush administration feared that a victory by Iraqi 
Kurds might encourage the ongoing Kurdish uprising in Turkey, a 
NATO ally. 32 Similarly, the United States feared that a radical Shi'ite 
Arab entity might emerge in southern Iraq, which could have serious 
implications for American allies in the Gulf with restive Shi'ite 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


194 Iraq 

Saddam Hussein's regime was always extraordinarily brutal. Yet, 
despite repeatedly publicizing examples of various human rights 
violations by the regime, it is extremely unlikely that the US 
government was ever particularly concerned about such human- 
rights abuses, given that the US has provided large-scale military 
support to regimes that have been responsible for even more civilian 
deaths, such as that of Suharto in Indonesia. Nevertheless, Saddam 
Hussein was admired throughout the Islamic world for the fact that, 
despite corruption and the enormous amount of resources diverted 
to the military, pre-war Iraq ranked among the leading countries in 
the Third World in terms of health care, nutrition, education and other 
social and economic statistics. Part of what has always bothered the 
United States about Saddam Hussein has been his ability to articulate 
the frustrations of the Arab masses on the Palestinian question, on 
control of their natural resources, and on resistance to foreign 
domination. He was certainly opportunistic and manipulative in 
doing so, but he was effective. Most Arabs strongly opposed Iraq's 
takeover of Kuwait and were keenly aware of the nature of Saddam 
Hussein's regime and of its brutality. Yet, Kuwait was not the issue 
to them; it became much more than that. With the launch of the 
sT\ allied attacks, it became a conflict between the West and one of the rt\ 

v most forceful spokesmen for Arab nationalism . There was real concern v 

in the region and beyond that the United States used Iraq's invasion 
of Kuwait as an excuse to advance its long-desired military, political, 
and economic hegemony in the region. 

Indeed, the US-led military response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait 
turned Saddam Hussein from aggressor to defender and from bully 
to hero in the eyes of much of the Arab world. Asa result, there were 
many Arabs, such as the majority of Jordanians and Palestinians, 
who had never particularly liked Saddam Hussein, but now came to 
his side. This is a perspective that spread throughout the Islamic 
world and beyond, based upon a very deep-seated feeling of a people 
repeatedly subjected to foreign domination who found a symbol of 
resistance in Saddam Hussein, who came to represent Arab frustra- 
tions. Had the war really been the only viable option and its goal 
merely to deter Iraqi aggression against Kuwait and potential 
aggression against Saudi Arabia, upholding international law and 
other important principles, the United States would have had far 
more support for its actions. However, President Bush Sr., in a moment 
of candor, acknowledged what he saw as the real lesson of the First 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 1 95 

Gulf War for dictators who challenge the United States: "What we 
say goes/' 33 

THE US AND IRAQ, 1991-2003 

Though Iraq was forced out of Kuwait in 1991, the United States 
continued periodic bombing campaigns against the severely war- 
damaged nation. In April 1993 the Kuwaiti government revealed that 
it had evidence that Iraqi operatives had infiltrated Kuwait as part 
of an effort to assassinate former President Bush during a visit to the 
emirate, convicting several men in the alleged plot. Though the 
evidence was never made public and the fairness of the Kuwaiti 
judicial system has frequently been questioned, President Bill Clinton 
ordered the bombing of Baghdad in retaliation. The US raids destroyed 
a number of government buildings and struck a residential neigh- 
borhood as well, killing Leila al-Attar, the country's leading female 
artist, and several others. In September 1996, when rival Kurdish 
factions began to fight each other, the United States launched another 
series of major bombing raids against Iraq. This rush to the defense 
of one group of Kurds may have been just a pretext, however: while 
the fighting took place in the north, most of the US air strikes took 
-^3~ place in the central and southern part of Iraq. ~^y~ 

The United States, Great Britain and France unilaterally initiated 
"no-fly zones" in northern and southern Iraq in March 1991 in 
response to widespread international concern over the humanitar- 
ian crisis following the aborted uprisings by Kurds and Shi'ites against 
the government. These no-fly zones had no precedent in international 
law and no authorization from the United Nations; France subse- 
quently dropped out of the enforcement efforts. Despite their dubious 
legality, however, the no-fly zones initially received widespread 
support as a means of curbing the Iraqi government's savage repression 
of its Kurdish and Shi'ite communities. The "no-fly zones" initially 
were designed to protect these areas from Iraqi air strikes by banning 
Iraqi military flights. 

According to two State Department reports in 1994 and 1996, 
however, the creation and military enforcement of "no-fly zones" in 
fact did not protect the Iraqi Kurdish and Shi'ite populations from 
potential assaults by Iraqi forces. The straight latitudinal demarca- 
tions of the no-fly zones did not correspond with the areas of 
predominant Kurdish and Shi'ite populations and the targets of the 
American and British air strikes had no relation to preventing Iraqi 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


196 Iraq 

attacks against these vulnerable minorities. In addition, scores of 
Kurdish and Shi'ite civilians were killed in the bombing raids 
themselves. That the United States has allowed the Turkish air force 
to conduct bombing raids within the northern Iraq "no-fly zone" 
against Kurdish targets is but one indication of the lack of concern 
about actually protecting the Kurdish population. What began as an 
apparent humanitarian effort has turned into another excuse for 
continuing a low-level war against Iraq. 

Hopes that the second Bush administration might reverse the 
Clinton administration's policies were shattered when, within weeks 
of assuming office, the United States bombed a series of targets in 
suburban Baghdad. Despite Bush administration claims that the 
United States was simply enforcing the no-fly zones in northern and 
southern Iraq, the targets of the March 2001 attacks were well outside 
both no-fly zones and had no apparent defensive rationale. Marine 
Lieu tenant-General Gregory Newbold, director of operations for the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff, justified the air strikes as a necessary response 
to Iraqi "aggression," namely its locking its radar on American 
warplanes. While the Iraqi government certainly has engaged in acts 
of aggression in the recent past, this may be the first time in history 
that the use of radar to track foreign military aircraft encroaching 
Xy within a country's internationally recognized airspace has been ~x3~ 

declared an act of aggression. 

Similarly, in the October 2002 Congressional declaration granting 
President Bush the power to go to war, the resolution cited Iraq's 
"firing on thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition 
Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United 
Nations Security Council" as demonstrative of Iraq's "willingness to 
attack the United States." 34 In reality, these no-fly zones were uni- 
laterally imposed without UN Security Council authorization: Iraq 
had every legal right to fire on them, as would any country whose 
airspace had been encroached upon by foreign military aircraft. 

Initially, the American use of force was justified to challenge Iraqi 
encroachments into the proscribed airspace. Next, it was escalated 
to include assaults on anti-aircraft batteries that fired at allied aircraft 
enforcing the zone. It escalated still further when anti-aircraft batteries 
were attacked simply for locking on their radar toward allied aircraft, 
even without firing. Then the Clinton administration began attacking 
radar installations and other military targets within the no-fly zone, 
even when they were unrelated to an alleged Iraqi threat against a 
US aircraft. With the March 2001 air strikes, the Bush administration 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 197 

expanded the targeting still further, attacking radar and command- 
and-control installations well beyond the no-fly zones. Between early 
1999 and the US-led invasion four years later, US and British warplanes 
bombed Iraq an average of once a week. 


The international sanctions were originally imposed on Iraq in August 
1990 in response to its refusal to abide by UN Security Council 
Resolution 660, requiring its withdrawal from Kuwait. Despite Iraq's 
forced compliance to the resolution seven months later, the sanctions 
continued on the grounds that Iraq had not fully complied with the 
provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 687. 

While the repressive nature of Ba'athist rule under Saddam Hussein 
during the 1980s is well documented, the Iraqi regime also maintained 
a comprehensive and generous welfare state. The nutritional and 
health care needs of the population were mostly fulfilled and Iraqis 
enjoyed the highest per capita caloric intake in the Arab Middle East. 
Most of the population had direct access to safe water and modern 
sanitation facilities; there was a wide network of well-functioning 
and well-supplied hospitals and health care centers. The overall 
-^3~ economy was strong, with Iraq considered a "middle income" country, ~^y~ 

importing large numbers of foreign guest workers to fill empty spots 
in its growing economy. As a result of the 1991 Gulf War and 
subsequent sanctions, Iraq found itself as one of the most impover- 
ished countries in the world. 

The limited media coverage in the United States regarding the 
hardships inflicted by the sanctions focused primarily upon the once- 
prosperous Iraqi middle class, featuring professors selling their valuable 
books, families selling their beloved pets and women selling their 
family jewelry in order to buy basic necessities. Yet it is Iraq's poor, 
particularly the children, who suffered most. 

United Nations sanctions - most vigorously supported by the 
United States - have in Iraq's case killed many times more civilians 
than did the war itself. An August 1999 UNICEF report noted that 
the mortality rate for children under five more than doubled since 
sanctions were imposed. 33 Estimates of the total number of Iraqis 
killed by malnutrition and preventable diseases as a direct consequence 
of the combination of war damage and sanctions have ranged from 
a quarter of a million to over 1 million, the majority of whom have 
been children. 36 Though the sanctions were rationalized as a means 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


198 Iraq 

of preventing Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction, 
they ended tip killing more civilians that all the chemical, biological 
and nuclear weapons ever used. Perhaps there has been no other time 
in history when so many people were condemned to death from mal- 
nutrition and preventable diseases by political decisions made overseas. 

In an interview on the CBS news show 60 Minutes when she was 
Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright was asked about the devastating 
impact sanctions were having on the children of Iraq, with host 
Lesley Stahl quoting the figure of half a million killed. Albright replied 
that "we think the price. worth it/' 37 

These deaths were a result of inadequate medical supplies, impure 
water and nutritional deficiencies. During the Gulf War of 1991, the 
United States destroyed 18 of 20 electrical power stations, disabling 
water pumping and sanitation systems, some of which were also hit 
directly. The result was untreated sewage flowing into rivers used for 
drinking water. Since the embargo prohibited the importation of 
many of the spare parts, allegedly because they could also be used as 
components in military systems, the Iraqis were unable to repair 
these facilities. As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in 
typhoid, cholera and other illnesses that largely had been eliminated 
in Iraq prior to the 1991 Gulf War. Importation of ambulances and 
-^3~ other emergency vehicles, and even their spare parts, were also among ~^y~ 

the items banned under the sanctions. Similarly, hospitals were unable 
to acquire spare parts for incubators, kidney dialysis machines and 
other equipment. Even materials such as food and medicines not 
covered by the ban became difficult to purchase due to the lack of 
capital. Electricity became irregular and conditions at hospitals became 
increasingly insanitary. A full quarter of the school-aged population 
could no longer in school in a country that previously had near- 
universal primary education. Eor those who could attend school, 
books and other educational resources are in extremely short supply. 
Severe malnutrition led to stunted physical and mental development 
of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. 

A 1995 report from the UN Eood and Agricultural Organization 
(EAO) noted, "Eour million people, one-fifth of the population, are 
currently starving to death in Iraq. Twenty-three percent of all children 
in Iraq have stunted growth, approximately twice the percentage 
before the war. „. Alarming food shortages are causing irreparable 
damage to an entire generation of children/' 38 

There was little controversy within the international community 
in 1990 when sanctions were originally imposed by the United Nations 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 1 99 

immediately following Iraq's invasion, occupation and annexation 
of Kuwait. These post-war sanctions had far less international support. 
Unlike some other countries subjected to heavy air strikes, for example, 
largely rural societies like Vietnam in the 1960s and Afghanistan in 
the 1980s, the heavily urbanized Iraqis suffered far greater devastation 
with the collapse of the civilian infrastructure. In addition to the 
sudden absence of clean drinking water, there was a breakdown of 
the normal distribution systems for basic commodities due to damaged 
roads, railways and bridges. Furthermore, due in part to the fact that 
Iraq is a largely arid country dependent on irrigation systems that 
were severely damaged (and apparently deliberately targeted) by the 
bombing, there were severe food shortages as well. 

US officials blamed the suffering on the Iraqi regime for its failure 
to cooperate more fully with the United Nations and for delaying for 
six years the implementation of the oil-for-food program. According 
to former Secretary of State Albright: "Saddam Hussein is the one 
who has the fate of his country in his hands, and he is the one who 
is responsible for starving children, not the United States of 
America/' 39 The far better health situation in the Kurdish areas not 
controlled by the Iraqi government also led to claims that the Iraqi 
regime could have done a better job. However, these northern areas 
-^3~ na ^ less stringent sanctions regarding local cash and procurement ~^y~ 

that the rest of Iraq and the northern part of the country suffered 
less damage from the war, as well as enjoying higher rainfall and 
receiving proportionally more aid. 

Another criticism was directed at the Iraqi government's decision 
to use scarce resources for the construction of opulent mosques and 
additional palaces for Saddam Hussein, his family and associates. 
The Iraqis, however, claimed that these functioned as public works 
projects using indigenous materials and were paid for in Iraqi dinars, 
currency that is worthless outside Iraq for the purchase of much- 
needed humanitarian supplies. 

Albright insisted that the Iraqi government's response to the 
sanctions was a test to prove if Saddam Hussein really cared about 
his people. Most knowledgeable observers of Iraq recognized that no 
such test was necessary: the Iraqi dictator's primary concern has 
always been his own power. While Saddam Hussein was indeed 
ultimately responsible for much of his people's suffering from the 
sanctions, it quickly became apparent that such suffering was not 
altering Iraqi policy, which raises the question whether the United 
States also shares some moral culpability for this humanitarian disaster. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


200 Iraq 

Oil exports, Iraq's primary source for foreign exchange, were also 
subject to the embargo until December 1996, when the United Nations 
and the Iraqi government agreed to establish an oil-for-food program, 
where a limited amount of petroleum could be sold for food under 
strict UN monitoring. Initially, Iraq was allowed to sell only $2 billion 
in oil for food. A full 25 percent of the oil sales went to Kuwait - one 
of the wealthiest countries per capita in the world - for war damage 
from the seven-month Iraqi occupation in 1990-91, a reduction from 
the initial 30 percent. Another 13 percent went to Kurdish areas in 
the north through a UN-controlled program. An addition 3 percent 
went to cover UN administration costs, leaving only 59 percent for 
the rest of Iraq. Although the FAO and the WHO gave Iraq high marks 
for its distribution of food and medicine, the UN estimated that about 
$4 billion was the minimum needed to meet basic needs for food and 
medicines. Over initial US objections, the UN raised that amount to 
$5.2 billion (or $3.5 billion which actually could go to Iraq) in the 
spring of 1997 and removed the cap altogether in December 1999. 
However, Iraq's inability to import spare parts for its oil industry 
during this period made it difficult for Iraq to pump enough oil to 
meet the minimum needed. 

The oil-for-food program was crippled by allowing any member 
Xy of t ne Security Council, through the 661 Committee, to block indef- ~x3~ 

initely any Iraqi imports apart from food and medicine, resulting in 
more than $5.3 billion worth of contracts being held up by 2002, 
largely as a result of US objections. UN Secretary -General Kofi Annan 
accused the United States of "disrupting the Oil-For-Food program 
upon which millions of people depend for their survival/' 60 

The United States tacitly acknowledged this failure through 
Secretary of State Powell's advocacy, soon after he came to office in 
early 2001, for what he termed "smart sanctions/' On 14 May 2002 
the UN Security Council unanimously endorsed a US-sponsored 
overhaul of sanctions that makes it somewhat easier for Iraq to import 
civilian goods. Most Security Council members wanted the economic 
sanctions lifted altogether, so that it took more than a year of nego- 
tiations to come to this compromise. Under this new sanctions regime 
the 661 Committee was abolished. Humanitarian goods were able to 
go through unencumbered. Military items were still banned and a 
new committee was established to review potential dual-use items. 

This reform allowed additional food, medical supplies and other 
humanitarian goods into the country, but it did virtually nothing to 
rebuild Iraq's badly damaged public infrastructure, including its public 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 201 

health facilities. The problem was always not so much what Iraq 
could or could not import, so much as its ability to use the oil money 
to pay wages, to finance public works projects, run hospitals or provide 
social services. The lack of cash allowed the regime to monopolize 
access to essential goods and services. For example, Iraqi children 
were dying more from bad water resulting from the lack of funds or 
parts to rebuild the country's water treatment system as from lack of 
food. The conservative British magazine Ike Economist referred to 
smart sanctions as "stringent and intrusive controls on trade and 
finance, keeping Iraq a soup kitchen, albeit a more efficient one/' 61 
Furthermore, the magazine noted, 

Although the country would be able to import more, it would still 
be denied the free movement of labor and capital that it desperately 
needs if it is at last to start picking itself up. Iraq needs massive 
investment to rebuild its industry, its power grids and its schools, 
and needs cash in hand to pay its engineers, doctors and teachers. 
None of this looks likely to happen under "smart sanctions/' 62 

In short, while the revised sanctions regime was beginning 
marginally to ease some of the worst aspects of the humanitarian 
-^3~ crisis, there was no way it could have met most of the basic needs of ~^y~ 

the Iraqi people. Only an end of the economic sanctions could have 
stimulated the economy to a degree that would have made it possible 
to rebuild the country's infrastructure so badly damaged in the war 
and allow any semblance of civil society to return. As one anonymous 
US official told the Financial Times, despite all the media attention 
given to the new sanctions regime: "In reality, this is a change of 
perceptions/' 63 

The economic sanctions not only led to enormous human suffering, 
they were clearly counter-productive to the broader US goal of bringing 
down the Iraqi dictator. As with other Arab countries, the forces 
capable of successfully challenging Saddam's regime would likely 
have arisen out of Iraq's middle class. Unfortunately, having been 
reduced to penury and struggling simply to survive, they were no 
longer able serve as an effective political opposition. Thousands 
emigrated. This once influential middle class was replaced by a new 
class of black marketeers who had a stake in preserving the status quo. 
Meanwhile, as more and more families became dependent on 
government rations for their very survival, they were forced to 
cooperate even more with the government and the (already high) risks 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

202 Iraq 

of challenging Saddam Hussein's rule became too great. Lifting non- 
military sanctions would have allowed for the country to be deluged 
with businesspeople and other outsiders, creating an environment 
far more likely to have resulted in a political opening than the 
sanctions regime which placed this country of 23 million in impov- 
erished isolation and in Saddam Hussein's grip. 

Part of the ineffectiveness of the sanctions came from the nature 
of Saddam Hussein's regime. It was more than simply another author- 
itarian Middle Eastern government; next to North Korea, it was 
probably the most totalitarian regime in the world. Given this fact, 
the ability of the population to organize effectively against the 
government or its policies, particularly under such dire economic 
conditions as those created by the sanctions, was severely limited. 

The morality of a particular foreign policy is tempered by its results. 
If human suffering from economic sanctions can advance a policy 
goal that would lead to less suffering in the long term, one could 
make the case that it is morally justified. Yet, the apparent failure of 
the sanctions to move Iraq's level of compliance with the inter- 
national community forward should have raised serious doubts. 
Former UN Secretary -General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali challenged the 
international community to confront "the ethical question of whether 
Xy suffering inflicted on vulnerable groups in the target country is a ~x3~ 

legitimate means of exerting pressure on political leaders whose 
behavior is unlikely to be affected by the plight of their subjects/' 64 
Indeed, there is little indication that Saddam Hussein, his inner circle 
or key elements of the military leadership ever suffered any shortages 
of food, drinking water or medical supplies. The suffering of the 
civilian population became a powerful propaganda tool to stir up 
anti-American sentiment, but it does not seem to have had any impact 
towards altering Iraqi policy in ways consistent with US interests. If 
there is any political impact from the sanctions that could be construed 
as positive by American officials, it may simply be that it has made 
Iraq an example for other countries as to what could happen if they 
dare challenge US prerogatives. 

At the time of the US invasion, the policy of economic sanctions 
had largely lost any credibility. It became widely viewed internation- 
ally as reflecting US insistence on maintaining a punitive 
sanctions-based approach regardless of the humanitarian impact, 
and as having failed to bring about either democratic changes in Iraq 
or security for the Gulf region. Numerous countries began challenging, 
if not directly violating, the sanctions regime and international 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 203 

support had largely eroded. Several prominent United Nations 
personnel in Iraq resigned in protest. At the Beirut summit of the Arab 
League in March 2002, the Arab nations unanimously endorsed a 
resolution calling for a total lifting of economic sanctions. Foreign 
Minister Sheik Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah of Kuwait, whose country's 
invasion by Iraq initially prompted the sanctions, stated categori- 
cally: "Kuwait has no objection to the launching of a call to lift the 
economic sanctions from Iraq/' 63 Even Richard Butler observed that 
the sanctions "simply aren't working other than to harm the ordinary 
Iraqi people" 66 and that they have been "utterly counterproductive 
for this disarmament purpose/' 67 


In the decade following the 1991 Gulf War, the coalition built by the 
Bush Sr. administration had fallen apart. US credibility had been 
further compromised in the international community in general and 
in the Arab world in particular by its support for Israel's increasingly 
repressive policies in the occupied territories, its growing ties with 
corrupt and oppressive Arab regimes, and the thousands of civilian 
casualties inflicted in Afghanistan by American forces. Meanwhile, 
-^3~ problems that threatened the stability of the region far more than ~^y~ 

the Iraqi dictator - the breakdown in the Israeli-Palestinian peace 
process, uneven economic development, the threat from Islamic 
extremist groups and the militarization of the region - were continuing 
to grow, in part due to US policies. 

Rather than reconsider the failed punitive approach, the Bush admin- 
istration, with bipartisan support from Congress, decided to launch 
a full-scale invasion to topple the government of Saddam Hussein. 

However, the conflict regarding access for UN inspectors and related 
issues has always been between the Iraqi government and the United 
Nations, not between Iraq and the United States. Though UN Security 
Council Resolution 687 was the most detailed in the world body's 
history, no enforcement mechanisms were specified. Enforcement is 
a matter for the UN Security Council as a whole, as is normally done 
when governments violate all or parts of such resolutions. According 
to Articles 41 and 42 of the United Nations Charter, no member state 
has the right to enforce any resolution militarily unless the UN 
Security Council determines that there has been a material breach 
of its resolution, that the violation represents a clear danger to inter- 
national peace and security, and that all non-military means of 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


204 Iraq 

enforcement have been exhausted. Even then the Security Council 
must specifically authorize the use of military force. This is what the 
Security Council did in November 1990 with Resolution 678 in 
response to Iraq's ongoing occupation of Kuwait. Since this resolution 
dealt only with Iraqi violations of UN Security Council resolutions 
regarding their invasion and occupation of Kuwait, this resolution 
became irrelevant as of late February 1991. Despite this, in the 
Congressional authorization of using military force, the resolution 
falsely claimed that UN Security Council Resolution 687 authorizes 
such use of force. 68 

UN Security Council Resolution 1441 , while warning Iraq of serious 
consequences for non-compliance, did not authorize the use of force 
to enforce the resolution and, in Article 1 4, reiterates that the Security 
Council remains "seized of the matter/' meaning that the Security 
Council alone has the authority to determine what, if any, 
enforcement mechanisms are to be utilized. Article 1 1 underscored 
that it was the responsibility of the heads of UNMOV1C and the IAEA, 
not any individual member states, to report Iraqi non-compliance. 
At the time of the US invasion, the directors of both agencies - as 
well as the UN Secretary- General - were reporting that Iraq, despite 
some concerns about its not being as forthcoming in providing certain 
-^3~ information as hoped, was largely cooperating with the inspections ~^y~ 

process and that some additional months were required to complete 
their work. The United States dismissed these concerns. Given that 
China, France and Russia all expressed a willingness to veto a 
resolution authorizing force and only two of the ten non-permanent 
members of the Security Council appeared to be ready to vote in 
favor of a US resolution authorizing force, the United States decided 
to invade anyway without UN Security Council authorization, placing 
the United States in direct violation of the UN Charter. Furthermore, 
according to Article VI of the US Constitution, such international 
treaties are to be treated as "supreme law/' thereby making this 
invasion a violation of US law as well. 

International law is quite clear about when military force is to be 
allowed. In addition to the aforementioned case of UN Security 
Council authorization, the only other time any member state is 
allowed to use armed force is described in Article 51, which states it 
is permissible for "individual or collective self-defense" against "armed 
attack... until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary 
to maintain international peace and security/' 69 There is also a widely 
accepted notion in common law that a country could use military 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 205 

force to counter an imminent and verifiable threat, such as enemy 
troops massing along its border. In other words, if any of Iraq's 
neighbors or the United States was attacked or there was solid evidence 
of an imminent attack by Saddam Hussein's armed forces, any one 
of these countries could have approached the Security Council and 
made their case as to why their security was threatened. Iraq's 
neighbors have not done so subsequent to 1991, apparently because 
they have not felt threatened. The United States never did so because 
such a claim would be seen as ludicrous, and, as a result, would have 
virtually no support on the Security Council. 

Despite this, the United States- along with Great Britain and some 
token forces from Australia and Poland - launched an invasion of 
Iraq on 17 March 2003. Not only was the coalition much narrower 
than that supporting the 1991 Gulf War to liberate Kuwait, every 
Arab government was on record opposing the invasion. As a result 
of enormous pressure, the emirs of Kuwait and Qatar - in apparent 
contravention to the concerns of the vast majority of their populations 
- agreed to allow the use of their emirates as staging areas for the 


There are a number of domestic political forces in the United States 
pushing US policy in the direction of hostility towards Iraq. 

There is the time-honored tradition for political leaders to maintain 
their popularity at home by striking out at a perceived external threat 
from which the public needs protection. Witness President Clinton 
ordering a series of air strikes against Iraq just two months prior to 
his re-election in 1996 and again on the eve of his impeachment 
hearing in 1998. Given that so very few Americans have much 
sympathy for Iraq, it is among the few nation states left against which 
a politician can build a reputation for toughness. The push to invade 
Iraq in 2002 came as scandals struck major corporations, many of 
which had close ties to the Bush administration, and both the 
president and vice-president were facing scrutiny over possible illegal 
business deals prior to their assuming office. A stagnant economy and 
upcoming midterm elections made the focus on Iraq a convenient 
distraction. At the same time, the war has proved to be a very divisive 
decision domestically and not necessarily one which will increase 
the popularity of the Bush administration over the longer term. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


206 Iraq 

Another factor comes from mainstream-to-conservative Zionist 
groups and their supporters, long an influential lobbying force in 
Congress, which have used the alleged threats against Israel from 
Iraq as a major argument for maintaining large-scale military and 
economic aid to the Israeli government. There are several problems 
with this rationalization, however. First of all, Israel is separated from 
Iraq by a large stretch of desert and by countries that are formally at 
peace with Israel and openly hostile to Iraq. In addition, the Israeli 
air force is more than capable of protecting Israel's border against 
any combination of these opponents and the country has a strong 
defense system against medium-range missiles. With Egypt and Jordan 
formally at peace with Israel, the weak Palestinian regime struggling 
for survival under Israeli sieges, Syria reducing its military and absent 
a great power sponsor, Lebanon as weak as ever, with the Gulf states 
focused on Iraq and Iran, Israel is in a far stronger position militarily 
than it ever has been. Similarly, with the demise of the Soviet Union, 
Israel is no longer of use as a Cold War asset. As a result, portraying 
Israel as both a potential victim of, and potential bulwark against, 
Iraq provides justification for ongoing high levels of US aid to Israel, 
most of which comes back to the United States to military contractors 
for their weapons and to banks as interest on previous military loans. 
Xy Ultimately, the United States may be motivated by what has ~x3~ 

motivated other great powers that have tried to exert their influence 
in the Gulf: the desire to control the world's greatest concentration 
of oil. Iraq is believed to have the second largest oil reserves in the 
world, surpassed only by Saudi Arabia. Approximately two-thirds of 
the world's oil wealth exists along the Persian Gulf, with particularly 
large reserves in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. 
About one-quarter of US oil imports come from the Persian Gulf 
region. The imposition of higher fuel efficiency standards and other 
conservation measures, along with the increased use of renewable 
energy resources for which technologies are already available, could 
eliminate US dependence on Middle Eastern oil in a relatively short 
period of time. This could be accomplished at far lower cost than 
maintaining the US military presence in the region. For a number of 
reasons, however, the United States has chosen its current far more 
dangerous path. It is perhaps significant that the Gulf supplies 
European states and Japan with an even higher percentage of those 
countries' energy needs, leading some to speculate that this forces 
these countries ultimately to rely on the United States for their energy 
security. Maintaining such a presence in the Gulf, therefore, does 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 207 

not mean controlling the source of much of the world's oil for 
American consumers or profits for friends of the Bush administra- 
tion so much as exercising an additional degree of control over other 
industrialized countries. 

In the post-Cold War world the United States has demonstrated 
little tolerance for any regime that is both antagonistic to US goals 
and has the potential of establishing a credible deterrent against the 
United States and its allies by possessing or attempting to possess 
weapons of mass destruction. The destruction of such regimes - either 
slowly through sanctions or more quickly through an invasion - 
serves as a warning that any other state that would even consider 
challenging American hegemony would suffer serious consequences. 


There is a dangerous tendency in Washington to discount the 
importance of public opinion in Middle Eastern countries. The 
invasion of Iraq has bred dissent even among the West's closest Arab 
allies. In addition, the ongoing US-led militarization of the region 
severely retards economic development and political liberalization. 
Most Arab allies of the United States are more threatened by potential 
-^3~ internal instability than they ever were by an attack from Iraq. 70 The ~^y~ 

highly visible military role of the United States in the region and the 
US-promoted militarization and its deleterious economic impact 
encourages dissent, often by radical and destabilizing elements. In 
effect, adherence to an American-defined security doctrine may 
actually threaten the security of these regimes, which are squandering 
their nations' wealth on weapons to the detriment of education, 
health care, housing and employment for their rapidly growing 
populations. One need only look at Iran under the Shah to see what 
could happen. 

The irony of US policy in the Persian Gulf is that it has little strategic 
justification given the costs. And the costs are more than financial. 
They also come in the form of the increasingly violent reaction to 
the ongoing American military presence, most evident in the 
September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, but in 
other ways as well. Indeed, this and other manifestations of current 
US policy in the Gulf actually endanger the security of both the 
United States and its Gulf allies. 

The arrogance of power, with which the American regime flaunts 
its operations throughout the world, provides the fuel for this anti- 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

208 Iraq 

American backlash. Quite a number of diplomats in the Gulf have 
complained about the way US officials have lectured their officials - 
at times in public - about their policies in the region and have 
"overstepped the boundaries of diplomacy" and demonstrated an 
"arrogance and disdain for others/' 71 One classic example is when 
George Bush Sr., when he was vice-president, responded to the inter- 
national outrage over the destruction of an Iranian airliner by an 
American missile by saying: "1 will never apologize for the United 
States of America - 1 don't care what the facts are!" 72 

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the most serious offenses 
by Saddam Hussein's regime in the eyes of US policy-makers was not 
in the area of human rights, terrorism, nuclear ambitions, subversion 
or conquest, but in daring to challenge American power in the Middle 
East. It is Iraq, along with Iran, that prevents the United States from 
exercising its political dominance over this crucial region. Having 
these regimes overthrown or under control, American policy-makers 
hope, will create the kind of environment that would give the United 
States unprecedented leverage in shaping the future direction of the 
Middle East. 

Thus, the final irony: serving as an impediment to such American 
rh ambitions was what gave Saddam Hussein a credibility and legitimacy ^h 

he would not otherwise have enjoyed from large numbers of people 
in the Middle East who were resentful of such foreign domination, 
and strengthened his regime's rule at home as well as his influence 
throughout the Middle East and beyond. With Iraq's regime ousted, 
the lesson to radical nationalists and Islamists in the Arab world and 
beyond may be that the nation state is no longer capable of resisting 
American hegemony. The tragic result may be that many will come 
to the conclusion that the only way to challenge this hegemony is 
through non-state actors using asymmetrical warfare, thereby dra- 
matically increasing the risks of large-scale acts of terrorism. 


1. Cited in Robert Scheer. "President Bush's Wag-the-Dog Policy on Iraq/' 
Los Angeles limes (7 May 2002). 

2. Ibid. 

3. US Department of State. Patterns of Global Terrorism, 2001 (Washington: 
Government Printing Office, 2002). 

4. Paul Rogers. "The Coming War with Iraq/' Cpen Democracy (20 February 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 209 

5. Anthony Cordesman. "The Changing Military Balance in the Gulf/' 
Middle East Policy, Vol. VI, No. 1 June 1998, p. 27. 

6. Ibid. 

7. Cited inLoraLumpe. "Clinton Administration Watch/' Arms Sales Monitor 
(19 March 1993). 

8. Gary Milhollin. "The Business of Defense is Defending Business/' 
Washington Post National Weekly Edition (14-20 February), p. 23. 

9. Seymour M. Hersh. Jhe Samson Cption: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal and American 
Foreign Policy (New York: Vintage Books, 1991), p. 9. 

10. See, for example, House Concurrent Resolution 9, 103rd Congress, 2nd 
session. Rarely mentioned is the fact that this resolution calls on Israel 
to place its own nuclear facilities under the stewardship of the 
International Atomic Energy Association. 

1 1 . Zachary Davis. "Nuclear Proliferation and Nonproliferation Policy in the 
1990s/' in Michael Klare and Daniel Thomas. World Security: Challenges 
for a New Century, 2nd edn (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994), p. 112. 

12. Article 14. 

13. Cited in Joseph Curl. "Agency Disavows Report on Iraq Arms/' Washington 
Times (27 September 2002). 

14. David Albright and Mark Hibbs. "Hyping the Iraqi Bomb/' Bulletin of 
Atomic Scientists (March 1991), Vol. 47, No. 2. 

15. Charles Glass, New Statesman and Society (17 February 1998). 

16. William Blum. "Anthrax for Export: US Companies Sold Iraq the 
Ingredients for a Witch's Brew/' Jhe Progressive (April 1998), p. 18. 

17. It is noteworthy that both Syria and Cuba remain on the list of terrorist 
C^) supporters despite the failure of successive administrations to demonstrate C^) 

any direct backing of terrorist groups by these countries for more than 
a decade. 

18. Patrick E. Tyler, "Officers Say US Aided Iraqi in War Despite Use of Gas/' 
New York Times (August 18, 2002). 

19. Chomsky, World Orders Old and New (New York: Columbia University 
Press, 1996), p. 26. 

20. Cited in Blum. "Anthrax for Export", p. 20. 

21. Sheila Carapico. "Legalism and Realism in the Gulf/' Middle East Report, 
(Spring 1998). 

22. Barton Gellman. "US Spied on Iraqi Military via UN/' Washington Post 
(2 March 1 999). After initial denials, the United States acknowledged in 
January 1 999 that it had indeed used American weapons inspectors for 
espionage purposes, including monitoring coded radio communications 
by Iraq security forces with equipment secretly installed by American 
inspectors {Washington Post, 8 January 1999). 

23. Scott Ritter. "Saddam Hussein Did Not Expel UN Weapons Inspectors/' 
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (May 2002), pp. 23-4. Ritter was 
a former team leader of UNSCOM weapons inspectors in Iraq. 

24. Institute for Policy Studies. "Iraq's Current Military Capability/' February 

25. Los Angeles Times(9 May 1991). 

26. Lecture at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, 26 March 1997. 

27. New YorkTimes (23 November 1997). 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


210 Iraq 

28. President Richard M. Nixon. "Address to the Nation on the War in 
Vietnam/' 3 November 1969. 

29. Scott Armstrong. "Saudis' AWACSJust a Beginning of a New Strategy/' 
Washington Post (1 November 1981). 

30. Cited in Michael Klare. "Making Enemies for the '90s: The New 'Rogue 
States' Doctrine/' TheNation, 1994, p. 625. 

31. A good summary ofthe quietUS support for Iraq can be found in an article 
on the media coverage of the scandal: Russ W. Baker. "Iraqgate: The Big 
One that (Almost) Got Away/' Columbia Journalism Review (March/April 
1993). For a more detailed account, see Mark Phythian and Nikos Passas. 
Arming Iraq: How the US and Britain Secretly Built Saddam's War Machine 
(Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1996). 

32. Interview with HRH Hassan, Royal Palace, Amman, Jordan. 8 January 

33. Jean Heller. "Photos Don't Show Buildup/' St. Petersburg Times (6 January 

34. "Osama Bin Laden: The Truth About the World's Most Wanted Man," 
Sunday Independent (16 September 2001). 

35. Associate Press (14 January 1990). However, the US essentially had been 
awarding aggression for years by sending military and economic support 
for other occupation armies, such as Indonesian forces in East Timor, 
Moroccan forces in Western Sahara, Turkish forces in northern Cyprus 
and Israeli forces in its occupied Arab lands. 

36. Roger Fisher, Elizabeth Kopelman and Andrea Kupfer Schneider. "Consider 
the Other Side's Choice," from Beyond Machiavelli: Tools for Ccping with 

C^) Conflict (Cambridge; London: Harvard University Press), 1994, pp. 52-6. C^) 

37. In an interview with BizLaw Journal, Roger Fisher noted: "I believe President 
Bush wanted to defeat the army of Iraq militarily. He thought a war would 
do that, and I think he wanted a war." Fisher described how he talked 
about how he had met with Kuwaiti leaders in exile prior to the war 
offering suggestions for negotiating strategy and, while they sounded 
positive to his suggestions, told him: "No, we can't afford to offend the 
United States and President Bush wants a military victory." (Interview with 
Brian Anderson, "■ 'Getting to Yes' Twentieth Anniversary," 7 March 2001.) 
This author has heard similar stories from scores of diplomats, journalists 
and academics in the Middle East. 

38. Report from CIA director William Webster, cited in "Divided Debate on 
a Foregone Conclusion," Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (March 1991), Vol. 47, 
No. 2. 

39. Based on observations from the author's visit to Iraq 6-1 4 January 1991, 
just prior to the outbreak of the war. 

40. For example, see House Armed Services Committee chairman Les Aspin. 
"Gulf Diplomacy Needs Arms Threat to Succeed," Center for Strategic and 
International Studies, 21 December 1990, 

41. The State Department film "Why Vietnam?, "used to justify US military 
intervention in that country, opens with a scene from the 1938 Munich 
conference when Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave in to Adolf 
Hitler's demand for a German takeover of Sudetenland (the German- 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


The US Obsession with Iraq and the Triumph of Militarism 21 1 

speaking part of Czechoslovakia), a summit that has become emblematic 
of appeasement. 

42. New Republic (3 September 1990). 

43. The US government, which has never been supportive of Arab unity, was 
probably quite pleased with the divisions that resulted. 

44. Phyllis Bennis. "Command and Control: Politics and Power in the Post- 
Cold War United Nations/' in Bennis and Michel Moushabeck (eds) 
Altered States: A Reader in the New World Order (New York: Olive Branch 
Press, 1993). The cut-off of aid came just three days after the Security 
Council vote. A US representative was overheard on the UN broadcast 
system telling Yemeni ambassador Abdallah Saleh al-Ashtal minutes after 
the actual vote, "that will be the most expensive 'no' vote you ever cast." 

45. Fourth Geneva Convention, Common Article III (1949). 

46. Cited in Robert Jensen. "The Gulf War Brought Out the Worst in Us/' 
Los Angeles Times (1 9 May 2002). 

47. Based upon interviews of leading academics and government officials in 
GCC countries by the author in January 1 992. 

48. Barton Gellman. Washington Post (23 June 1991). 

49. There are a wide range of estimates regarding both the civilian and 
military death toll on the Iraqi side. The figures used in this paragraph 
were cited in Bob Woodward's Ihe Commanders (New York: Simon and 
Schuster, 1991). 

50. John Donnelly. "US is Probing Cause, Degree of Civilian Toll/' Boston Globe 
(19 January 2002). 

51. The Shatt al-Arab is the 100-mile river formed from the convergence of 
C^) the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that demarcates the southern end of the C^) 

Iran-Iraq border. Iraqi resentment of this agreement, which resulted from 
pressure by Iran and the United States, is what precipitated Iraq's invasion 
of Iran four years later. 

52. Daniel Schorr. "Ten Days That Shook the White House/' Columbia 
Journalism Review (July/ August 1991). 

53. President George Bush, cited by Robert Parry, JheNation (IS April 1991). 

54. US House of Representatives, H.J. Resolution 114, 107th Congress, 2nd 
session, 7 October 2002. 

55. United Nations Children Fund. "Iraq Survey Shows 'Humanitarian 
Emergency/" 12 August 1999 [Cf/doc/pr/1 99/29). 

56. The higher estimates have been extrapolated from a 1995 report from 
researchers forthe Food and Agriculture Organization and various reports 
from UNICEF. The lower estimates are from reputedly more scientific 
studies, including the 1 999 report "Morbidity and Mortality Among Iraqi 
Children" by Columbia University's Richard Garfield, and "Sanctions 
and Childhood Mortality in Iraq," a May 2000 article by Mohamed Ali 
and IqbalShah in Ihe Lancet, the journal of the British Medical Society. 

57. CBS, 60Minutes (12May 1996). 

58. United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, 1995. 

59. Confirmation hearings for Madeleine Albright for Secretary of State, Senate 
Foreign Affairs Committee, 105th Congress, 1st session, 8 January 1997. 

60. Colin Lynch. "Humanitarian Goods Are Being Blocked, UN Chief 
Charges," Washington Post (25 October 1999). 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


212 Iraq 

61. "Smart exit: The end of the smart sanctions/' The Economist (7 July 2001). 

62. "Can Sanctions Be Smarter?" Ike Economist (26 May 2001). 

63. Financial Times (28 May 2001). 

64. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Supplement to An Agenda for Peace, United Nations, 
Office of the Secretary- General, January 1995. 

65. Reuters, 20 March 2001. 

66. United Press International, 2 August 2002. 

67. BBC radio, Talking Point , 4 June 2000. 

68. US House of Representatives, H.J. Resolution 114. 

69. Charter of the United Nations Organization, Article 5 1 . 

70. This has been acknowledged in background briefings with the author by 
Cabinet-level officials of two of these countries, January 1992. 

71. Abdullah Al-Shayeji. "Dangerous Perceptions: Gulf Views of the US Role 
in the Region/' Middle East Policy, Vol. V, No. 3 (September 1997), p. 5. 

72. Cited inJeeKim {eti.) Another World is Possible: Conversations in a Time of 
Terror (New Orleans: Subway and Elevator Press, 2002), p. 83. 

^ -0- 


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7 Not Quite an Arab Prussia: 
Revisiting Some Myths on 
Iraqi Exceptionalism 

Isam al Khafaji 

Long before Saddam Hussein came to power, Iraq had been labeled 
by many Arabs as "the Prussia" of the Arab world. Since 1936, when 
the first modern cohp d'etat ever to take place in an Arab country 
succeeded in Iraq, sympathizers were looking for the coup leaders to 
play the role of Bismarck and unify the Arab nation. Others, usually 
with democratic leanings, have been in the habit of viewing Iraqis 
as a violent people with an almost natural inclination to go to 
extremes. The Iraqi experience since the accession to power of the 
Arab Ba'ath (Renaissance) Socialist Party in 1968, and especially since 
the rise of Saddam Hussein to the presidency in 1979, has only 
reinforced these perceptions. Many opponents characterize the regime 
-£^- as fascist, while its supporters invoke its pan-Arab and anti-American -C'X- 

rhetoric as evidence of an independent nationalist stance. 

Rhetoric aside, a comparison between Iraq and pre-1 945 Germany 
is tempting. Both were relatively newborn countries; both achieved 
relatively high growth rates within short spans of time. In both cases 
a paternalistic state played a prominent role in industrialization and 
modernization, and, ironically, in both cases rapid growth soon 
reached a deadly impasse: huge regional disparities in income and 
wealth generation, an economic expansion chiefly dependent on 
state purchases and contracts, and therefore a society geared to 
armament and war. In both states a huge ideological edifice was 
constructed in order to legitimate this drive to power. 

However, it would be too simplistic to treat this ideological edifice 
as a mere manipulation of the public attitudes by a certain ruling 
group. Chauvinistic and militaristic ideologies build upon existing 
disenchantment, but instead of addressing its underlying causes, they 
whip up aggressiveness against "others" as the source of all evils. With 
varying intensity, this has been unfortunately the rule rather than the 
exception in the process of state- and nation-building in early modern 
Europe. 1 The former Ba'ath regime in Iraq played skillfully on the 



Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


214 Iraq 

perceived or actual insecurity of Iraqis by turning their hatred towards 
foreigners who have been selected depending on a variety of circum- 
stances: Israel/Zionism, Western powers, communist countries, Iran, 
Arab countries, or even non-Arab and/or non-Sunni Iraqis. 

Addressing the problem of Iraq's sense of insecurity, as well as Iraq 
as a source of insecurity to the region, should therefore proceed from 
the legacy of (at least) two decades of war-making. Much of the 
literature on political, economic, social, and even cultural problems 
that the Middle East (and non-industrialized) countries face 
emphasizes the role of western powers in shaping the fate of these 
countries. A favored explanation for conflicts among non-industri- 
alized and especially Middle Eastern countries has been the alleged 
role of colonial powers in creating these countries and/or drawing 
their borders. While it is undoubtedly the case that supra-national 
factors like globalization and the "new world order" play a much 
more pronounced role in shaping local structures everywhere in the 
world today, this chapter departs from the premise that it is the way 
that local structures articulate with international influences that 
determines the outcomes of processes, rather than vice versa. Global 
processes by themselves do not explain why Korea's path was different 
from China's, or why Iraq's fate diverged from that of Syria. Hence, 
Xy 1 propose to begin by sketching the main sources of Iraq's structural ~x3~ 

crisis, before dealing with the regional and international context and 
how it impacts the future of Iraq as a state and society. 

The chapter will begin by discussing the more lasting feature, the 
geostrategic posture of Iraq and how it impacted its regional position 
as a major oil exporter. This will be followed by an examination of Iraq's 
prospects as a united country and how its socio-economic and political 
crises nurtured the nationalist idea of a heterogeneous society. The 
chapter concludes with some observations on US policy towards Iraq. 


The Saddam Hussein regime capitalized on Iraq's geopolitical problem 
which lies in the fact that it is virtually landlocked; the width of its 
coast on the Gulf is only about 20 km. But why should this be a 
problem? After all, there are more than 30 landlocked countries in 
the world, eight of them in Europe. Also, Iraq is not quite landlocked; 
neighboringjordan has a thriving maritime trade through its narrow 
coast on the Red Sea. However, the Iraqi leadership has always tried 
to invest the country's geography with metaphysical meaning. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 215 

Bordering a non-Arab country, Iran, turned Iraq into "the eastern 
gate of the Arab nation/' and thereby wars fought for mundane and 
pragmatic objectives were turned into vague missions that Iraqis were 
destined to fulfill, on behalf of all Arabs. 2 

The only major oil exporter that has no significant independent 
outlets to international waters, Iraq has had to rely on the territories 
of neighboring Syria, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to extend export 
pipelines for its oil. Elementary politics says that a country in this 
position must invest heavily in cultivating the friendliest possible 
relations with its neighbors. Sadly, Iraqi politics, especially since the 
advent of Saddam Hussein, has followed a diametrically opposite 
strategy; but it would be self -deceptive to blame the whole problem 
on an ignorant tyrant whose removal from power would bring things 
back to "normal/' It is no coincidence that the first two Gulf wars 
were preceded by persistent declarations by top Iraqi officials to the 
effect that the total export capacity would be increased to between 
6 and 8 million barrels per day (mbd) from the normal level of 3-3 .5. 
Saddam Hussein was quite aware that such a prospect would strongly 
destabilize the status quo and radically alter the balance of power 
within the region, by depriving Saudi Arabia (and potentially Iran) 
of their privileged positions as the dominant powers in the inter- 
Xy national oil market and in regional politics. 3 The following argument ~^y- 

will show that Saddam's fatal adventure in Kuwait was (at least 
partially) driven by these calculations. 

On 6 August 1988, a ceasefire was reached in the eight-year war 
with Iran. Despite Iraq's portrayal of this as an Iraqi victory, the truth 
was that both countries ended where they began. Saddam had to 
forsake his principal declared war objective, namely forcing the 
Iranians to accept his unilateral abrogation of the March 1975 
agreement that gave both countries shared sovereignty over the Shatt 
al-Arab waterway. As the dream of acquiring an independent outlet 
to the sea by controlling both shores of the Shatt al-Arab faded, Iraq 
tuned to its only other alternative: the narrow waterway of Khor 
Abdalla, which belongs to Kuwait. A careful reading of the memoranda 
exchanged between Iraqi and Kuwaiti officials on the eve of Iraq's 
invasion reveals that Iraq's tenacious attempts to seize the two strategic 
Kuwaiti islands of Wirba and Bubian were explicitly framed in 
pragmatic terms, with no reference to pan-Arabist sloganeering, or 
claims to any rights of sovereignty over Kuwait. 4 Iraq's persistence 
in pursuing such a contradictory policy was a recipe for committing 
suicide. The Ba'athist leadership's crime does not lie in attempting 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


216 Iraq 

to maximize oil exports, but in trying to do so by pursuing hegemonic 
authority over its neighbors. 

For better or worse, a post-sanctions Iraq is not likely to (and 
cannot) go back to its 1970s levels of oil exports, given its control of 
the second largest proven oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia, 
its population of 24 million, and especially its desperate and accu- 
mulating need for foreign currency resulting from the damage of 
both wars, the postponed and unsatisfied demands of long years of 
devastation and deprivation, and its huge outstanding debt and 
claims for reparations. Attempts at changing Iraq's geography as a 
means of forcing a fait accompli on the region's oil exporters is an 
illusion that can only bring devastation to the entire region. In the 
meantime Iraq's oil-exporting neighbors will most likely use all 
available means to forestall such a nightmare; an increase in one 
country's exports by some 3 mbd. 3 Iraq's only option to counter such 
pressures would lie in its going back to its pre-1970 regional setting, 
by turning again west towards Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, and north 
towards Turkey as its main trade partners, while trying to preserve 
friendly relations with its southern neighbors. 6 Economically and 
culturally Iraq belongs more to what the French call the Proche Orient 
(Near East) than to the Moyen Orient (Middle East). Iraq's western and 
-^3~ northern neighbors need its oil. 7 Iraq, in turn, needs the long and ~^y~ 

closer Syrian and Turkish coasts on the Mediterranean. Iraq, Syria 
and Turkey share their vital water resources and all three countries, 
especially Turkey and Iraq, will sooner or later have to find solutions 
to the nationalist aspirations of more than 1 2 million Kurdish citizens. 8 
Such a significant shift in strategy, however, will not hinge upon a 
decision taken by Iraq itself, for it entails the rise of an almost new 
regional politico-economic system. This requires the West and the 
US especially to develop a radically new perception of the region, its 
role in world politics and economics, and the role of the component 
parts of this system in bringing about stability and prosperity. Before 
dealing with US policy towards Iraq, however, we have to address the 
much talked about issue concerning Iraq's security: namely, will Iraq 
as a sheer physical entity, exist in the first place?! 


Following the first Gulf War and the popular uprising of 1991, much 
of the discussion over the future of Iraq revolved around the possibility 
of its dismemberment. For more than a decade it became fashionable 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 21 7 

for many political analysts (but very few, if any, scholars) on Iraq to 
remind their readers of the "artificiality" of that country as a political 
entity. In a typical statement, Reeva Simon begins her article on Iraq 
with the following: 

An obvious example of an artificially created state, Iraq came into 
existence at the end of World War I at the behest of the British. 
New borders had to be created in the Middle East after the 
dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. As the victors, the British 
directed territorial design according to their own strategic concerns 
that now required a shift in policy.. „They drew the new lines at 
the conference in Cairo in 1921 that created the country of Iraq 
out of the former Ottoman provinces of Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul. 9 

The arguments underlying these conclusions overlap, but one can 
discern three: 1) that it was an external power that created the state; 

2) that the country had no previous existence as a distinct unity; and 

3) that its ethnic and religious composition lacks the necessary 
conditions for the rise of a nation. 

Assuming that these arguments are empirically true, they do not 
W by themselves make Iraq an exceptional case. Moreover, they are less v7~ 

convincing when they are presented as explanations for the present 
problems that Iraqis face in forging some kind of a national/social 
consensus. In fact, it seems that these arguments and their wide 
acceptance today are less related to facts and research than to the 
shifting sands on which Arab societies, especially Iraq, have been 
sliding throughout the past decade. Although the facts related to the 
formation of the state of Iraq have always been widely acknowledged, 
practically none of the major authors on Iraq have labeled that state 
as "artificial." 10 The concept of artificiality was in fact the monopoly 
of the pan-Arabist school who used it in a different, almost opposite 
way to that of contemporary commentators; namely to show that 
the Arab Nation - which according to Arab nationalists is a natural 
political, cultural and economic unity - had been dismembered by 
colonial empires in order to weaken the nation and facilitate its 
subjugation. The difference here lies in the fact that, while the first 
approach implies the need for additional divisions in order to achieve 
the ideal "nation state" outcome, the second sees that outcome in 
regaining an imagined bygone unity of the Arab Nation. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


218 Iraq 

The thesis on artificial Mashreq states is based on arguments that 
are even less convincing than the ones forwarded by pan-Arabist 
thought, for the following reasons: 

* Historically speaking, no state emerged spontaneously, or 
through a smooth consensus among its internal components 
alone. Internal and external wars were, and unfortunately are, 
part and parcel of what we call state and nation formation. 
Very few scholars would dispute this fact, but a proponent of 
the artificiality-thesis may object to this argument on the 
grounds that it is not the war between more or less equals that 
s/he has in mind but the interests of a colonial power. But, then 
how did Belgium, Switzerland and most of the states of east 
and east central Europe come into being? They all emerged 
after external wars where the victors forced their demands and 
sanctioned them through treaties. No serious observer would 
label any of these countries, including the ones that face serious 
structural problems today, as artificial. 

* With the exception of very few states that have preserved their 
structures over relatively long periods of time (Egypt, China, 

^ Mo rocco a nd Era nee) , the va st ma j o rity of co ntempora ry sta tes ^ 

U^ are recent creations. The example of Latin America is quite telling \JJ 

in this respect. After a romantic period of Latin American 
nationalism, similar to that which the Arab world had seen after 
World War II, came a period of border wars. Today no one disputes 
the authenticity of these states that had never existed before 
the wars of independence of 1820. Just like the Arab wilayas of 
the Ottoman Empire, most of these were vice-counties of Spain 
until the latter was defeated in the Napoleonic wars. The present 
borders of Latin American states correspond, more or less, to 
those of the Spanish vice-counties of the eighteenth century. 

* What about the ethnic /religious diversity? Well, Iraq is no less 
heterogeneous than say Syria, India, Iran, Switzerland, let alone 
the US. Yet, these latter states are generally considered viable 
states, and, in the case of the US and even the trilingual 
Switzerland, they are even considered as nations. 11 In this 
regard, one should note the following: 

1. Ethnic homogeneity has not (and is not) a guarantee of a 
country's survival and/or viability. Ethnographers have long 
established that Somalia is one of the most ethnically and 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 219 

religiously homogeneous societies in the world, yet we all 
know the fate of that state. 
2. Conversely, ethnic and/or religious pluralism is not 
necessarily a cause for a country's imminent disintegration. 
Beside the above-cited examples of Switzerland, Syria, or 
even India, let us remember that a religiously homogeneous 
Pakistan split into two countries in 1 970, while its ethnically 
and religiously "heterogeneous" neighbor, India, faces no 
such serious threat (aside from the Kashmir question). 

Applying these conclusions to Iraq, we can easily see how 
pseu do -readings of history can lead to ridiculous conclusions 
that are colored by short-term (or perhaps short-sighted) political 
considerations. At no point in Iraq's post-Islamic history has 
the country been ruled from more than one single political 
center. Historical facts show that the integrating processes of 
the components of modern Iraq have been at play since at least 
1830. 12 The British did try to carve their colonial spoils out of 
the defunct Ottoman Empire by dividing the region into spheres 
of influence between themselves and France, but this is far from 
saying that they created artificial entities that would have 
st\ otherwise been united. An argument that Arab nationalists st\ 

K ^ have end 1 essl y repea ted c 1 a i m s tha t "sma 11 " enti ti es c ou 1 d b etter v ^ 

serve the interests of colonialism. But this argument is no more 
tenable because: 

* the area of modern Iraq is larger than that of most 
European countries; 

* besides Iraq, some of the largest Arab states were in fact 
created or supported by colonial powers: Saudi Arabia came 
out of the forced union of five principalities; the British 
aided in the fusion of the three wilayas that formed modern 
Libya, as they did with the "Kingdom of the Nile Valley" 
under King Earouk of Egypt. As for the Erench, the sheer 
size of their ex-colonies of Algeria and Morocco testifies 
to the superficiality of the idea that Arab countries were 
artificial creatures drawn on the maps of colonial powers; 

* the Arab countries have never been united under one rule 
in their history. They were only united when they formed 
part of empires that also controlled large non-Arab territory 
and populations such as those of India, Persia, Kurdistan, 
Nubia, Assyria, Turkey, etc.; 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


220 Iraq 

* even if the whole Arab world were united, this would not 
be a guarantee for strength and prosperity. The total 
population of the Arab world is about 30 percent that of 
India, itself a Third World country. 

Finally, to say that Iraq is a modern creation that has not had the 
time to forge a sense of national unity is to overlook the fact that, 
out of the 190 nations that are present-day members of the United 
Nations, Iraq was among the first 50 signatories of the organization's 
founding charter in 1945 and a full member of the League of Nations 
15 years before that. Even if we accept the "creation" argument, 
modern Iraq is as old as Hungary, Austria and Finland, only a decade 
younger than Norway and three decades younger than modern Italy. 
The risks of Iraq's dismemberment have been raised by many com- 
mentators and on a number of occasions, but they have rarely been 
assessed in their concrete context. A particularly important issue, 
which most authors gloss over, is that dispensing with central state 
authority, or the failing of parts of a country under the jurisdiction of more 
than one political center is not directly related to the intensity of socio- political 
conflict within a given society, or to the degree ofpcpular cpposition to the 
A\ ruling regime. The region extending from Afghanistan to Morocco A\ 

v has witnessed severe social tensions and conflicts since the early v 

1970s. Yet, even in war-torn Afghanistan and Lebanon, militias who 
controlled portions of these countries at one time or another never 
thought of declaring their zones independent, or even bases for 
interim or alternative governments. 

In the case of Iraq, three gov erno rates of Iraqi Kurdistan (plus parts 
of the governorates of Nineveh [Mosul] and al-T'amim [Karkouk]) 
have been outside the central authority's control for more than a 
decade now, yet no leader has even contemplated the idea of declaring 
the region independent, despite the legitimacy of the national Kurdish 
aspiration for self-determination. The reason behind this is not simply 
the regional and international pressures or threats that would oppose 
the formation of a Kurdish state. In 1992 the Kurds were handed a 
golden opportunity for independence when Saddam Hussein 
withdrew not only the armed forces from the region, but also civil 
servants, imposing economic blockade on the region over and above 
the international sanctions that Kurdistan shared with the rest of 
Iraq. Nevertheless, the Kurdish leaders did not go beyond declaring 
the region a federal autonomous region of Iraq. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 221 

What many observers who raise the risks of dismemberment under- 
estimate in the case of Iraq is the degree to which interests among 
various sections of the Iraqi population, especially the more affluent 
and influential, are interlocked. This interconnectivity makes it very 
unlikely, though not impossible, to think of separate states within 
historical Iraq. Further, in spite of all the evils brought by the advent 
of the rentier state, dependence on one source of revenue not directly 
associated with the productive capacity of the society, the high level 
of dependence of the population on the state for employment, 
procurement of their services and products, and now the ration card, 
the rise of autonomous polities is highly unlikely. With the neglect 
of agriculture, the influx of migrants to cities, and the consequent 
rise in the degree of urbanization, the Iraqi state has become more 
centralized than ever before. 

Moreover, the sweeping statements that we often read about a 
Kurdish north, a Sunni Arab center, and a Shi'ite Arab south give a 
false impression of a country that can be smoothly divided among 
its component sections. Not only is the existence of significant Sunni 
towns in the extreme south of Iraq (e.g. Zubair and Abul Khaseeb), 
and of Shi'ite towns in north central Iraq (e.g. Khanaqeen and 
Mandali) glossed over, but the composition and relative size of 
Xy Baghdad as well. Baghdad comprises between 25 and 27 percent of ~x3~ 

Iraq's population. Alongside significant Kurdish and Christian (Arab, 
Assyrian, Chaldean and Armenian) minorities living in the capital, 
no less than 1 million Shi'ites live in the northern sections of the city 
(Kadhumayn, al-Hurriyya and al-Shu'la), in addition to some 1 to 
1.5 million Shi'ites in the eastern part (al-Thawra, renamed Saddam 
City). The heart of Baghdad is composed of a mixture of old Shi'ite, 
Sunni, Kurdish and Christian Baghdadi families. To a lesser extent, 
Iraq's second largest city until the war with Iran, Basra, reflected a 
similar mixed composition, as did Mosul with its Sunni-Arab and 
Kurdish composition. In short, ethno /sectarian cleansing scenarios 
are simply not feasible when the capital city is a microcosm of a rich 


On the other hand, are we to accept the simplistic version (propagated 
by some factions in the Iraqi opposition) of a harmonious society 
whose only evil is Saddam Hussein? Rejecting the artificiality thesis 
is not a call for the adoption of a naive vision. Indeed, the present 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

222 Iraq 

atmosphere in Iraq is highly charged with tribal, regional and sectarian 
overtones. However, this phenomenon should not be hastily ascribed 
to the "non-integration" of Iraq thesis, or (even worse) to its being 
an essentialist factor in Middle Eastern culture. Rather, it is directly 
related to the pattern of the rentier state. 

I have argued elsewhere that kinship relationships and ethno- 
sectarian solidarity should be viewed in the context of contemporary 
Iraq as relationships of interest and common world views first and 
foremost. 13 Before the huge jump in oil revenues and the shift towards 
the rentier state in 1952, Shi'ite and Kurdish underre presentation in 
the state apparatus and decision-making bodies was resented by 
members of both communities, but was not fiercely resisted. The 
reason was that underrepresented communities could still occupy 
the highest positions in the social hierarchy thanks to their 
domination of private landed and commercial activity, which was 
still autonomous of the state. A Sunni Arab -dominated state apparatus 
only began to show its social and economic heavy -handedness after 
the spectacular rises in oil revenues in 1952. Even then, compliance 
with, or resistance to the state was never motivated purely or even 
mainly by sectarian/ethnic prejudices. The first Ba'athist regime in 
Iraq(Eebruary-November 1963) was fiercely and violently resisted by 
Xy t ne vast majority of Shi'ites despite the fact that its most influential ~x3~ 

leaders were Shi'ites. Unarmed Shi'ites went down to the streets and 
were massacred en masse while showing support for the deposed 
Sunni Prime Minister, Abdul Karim Qassim (1958-1963), whose 
sectarian affiliation most Iraqis were unaware of, not caring to know 
because he followed a non-discriminatory policy in this respect. 

Even under the Ba'ath, and especially under Saddam Hussein when 
clannish politics took a sharp turn upwards, discrimination did not 
run along purely sectarian lines, but rather against Iraqis from urban 
backgrounds, including Sunni Arabs, who could not share the 
worldviews and social norms of the ruling revolutionaries who 
originated from impoverished provincial towns. Thus, while the 
Shi'ites and Kurds were grossly underrepresented in the main decision- 
making bodies of the Ba'athist regime, not a single urban Sunni from 
Mosul, Baghdad or Basra was represented either. By contrast, individual 
Shi'ites, Kurds and Christians who proved their loyalty to the regime 
were generously rewarded materially or by being appointed to 
positions of trust. 

Clannish solidarity and shared worldviews (and therefore sharing 
approaches to the problems facing Iraq and the solutions sought) 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 223 

took precedence over sectarian views perse. The world has witnessed 
the horrible punishment of the closest relatives once kinship rela- 
tionship diverged from that of interest. Long before the brutal 
butchering of Saddam's own two sons-in-law in 1996, many 
prominent Tikritis had been ousted from power, assassinated or sent 
into oblivion simply because they did not fit the regime's policies. 
The predominantly Sunni Muslim Brothers, Nasserites, and certainly 
pro-Syria Ba'athists were no less brutally treated than predominantly 
Shi'ite movements. Seven years before the horrific gassing of the 
Kurdish town Halabja, al-Dujail, a predominantly Sunni town north 
of Baghdad, was turned to dust when some of its sons attempted to 
assassinate Saddam Hussein. 

What all the above points to is that perceptions of identity and 
solidarity have never been purely exclusive in modern Iraq, nor are 
they eternally constructed. This is not to deny that gross discrimi- 
nation against Shi'ites and Kurds as communities did not occur, or 
that members of these communities are not aware or are indifferent 
to it. Nevertheless, the fact is that during the phase of the regime's 
ascendancy, roughly until the second half of the 1980s, an active 
process of co-option coupled with an expanding pie of national 
wealth allowed for the rise of an embryonic social hierarchy based 
Xy on membership of particular sects, regions, and towns, whereby many ~x3~ 

people, while resenting the regime's brutality and discrimination, 
acquiesced with the status quo, because even at relatively lower levels 
of this hierarchy, people could reap some benefits. 

However, by the mid-1980s a crisis was looming in the air, and 
regional/sectarian cleavage took an acute upward turn on both sides: 
amidst the regime as well as the Iraqi population. The paternalistic 
state was beginning to break down. As a sweeping privatization plan 
was launched in 1987 and the state was drained of its resources, 
those communities that had been further away from the system's core 
began to feel the burdens of unemployment, inflation, insecurity, 
and vulnerability more than others. The regime itself made no secret 
of whom it would favor while at the same time the level of national 
resources was swiftly shrinking. Deprived of the means to silence 
even non-hostile sections of the population, the consolidation of a 
minority group with blind loyalty to the regime took precedence 
over active co-option. The humiliating defeat in the 1991 Gulf War 
was the spark that unleashed the mountains of hatred that had 
accumulated over decades. But it was the state that gave it a sharp 
sectarian turn; when for the first time in the history of modern Iraq, 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

224 Iraq 

a ruling regime raised explicitly anti-Shi'ite slogans in order to suppress 
the intifada. The Republican Guards and their tanks that swept 
Karbala and Najaf, the two Shi'ite holy cities, did not only bomb 
shrines of the revered Imams, but added graffiti to them: "No Shi'ites 
from now on!" The official organ of the ruling Ba'ath Party came out 
for the first time with the following denunciation of some 60 percent 
of the Iraqi people: "a certain sect [the Shi'ites] has been historically 
under the influence of the Persians. „They have been taught to hate 
the Arab Nation/' As for the Marsh villagers, whose natural habitat 
would be dried up a year later in what has been described as the 
greatest ecological crime of modern history, the same daily editorials 
dismissed them as "marsh people" so accustomed to breeding buffalo 
that they have become "indistinguishable from them." Racism reaches 
its zenith when they (and the Indian people!) are doomed in the 
following statement: "These are not Arabs. They were brought with 
their buffalo from India by Muhammad al-Qasim" [the Abbasid 
leader who conquered India in the ninth century] {al-Tkawra, 1-3 
April 1991). 

In the other trench, the polarized atmosphere took shape when 
some but not all or even the majority of rebellions were raising slogans 
like "We want a Shi'ite leader." But how did the rentier state produce 
Xy this social structure that is so highly charged with tribal, regional ~x3~ 

and sectarian overtones, a phenomenon that was unthinkable in the 
1950s or 1960s? 

Iraq's successive revolutions and cohps d'etat have brought about 
a necessary, but certainly not a sufficient, change towards the rise of 
a civil society in the long term. The republican regimes dismantled 
the pre-bourgeois, socio-economic structures through adopting 
sweeping land reforms, centralizing education and imposing uniform 
curricula in schools, opening up paths for upward mobility for the 
then marginalized middle and lower strata originating from provincial 
towns, fighting illiteracy and expanding and extending basic services 
to wider sections of the population. Tribal and religious social insti- 
tutions loosened their grip on their followers and began losing their 
political, economic and social functions. The older civil groupings 
in the big cities, especially in Baghdad, had already been flooded by 
internal migrants since the end of World War 11. 

While the republican regimes achieved their "destructive" functions 
more or less efficiently, their "constructive" role of laying the 
groundwork for a superior mechanism for social and economic 
development, and therefore new forms of social groupings and strat- 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 225 

ification, proved to be disastrous. Iraq's dependence on its relatively 
huge oil revenues spared it the typical problems that other Third 
World countries had faced: the search for hard currency and means 
for financing its investment expenditure. Policy-makers were therefore 
not faced with the need to raise the competitiveness of Iraq's industry 
and agriculture, or to find export outlets for Iraqi products (as was 
the case with the cash-strapped newly industrialized countries of East 
Asia, for example), but to find jobs for the unemployed and to raising 
the standards of living in the short run. 

Through these policies the ruling Ba'ath gained the support, or at 
least the acquiescence, of wide sections of the population. From 1 958 
to 1 977, the number of personnel employed by the state jumped from 
20,000 to more than 580,000, not including the estimated 230,000 
in the armed services at that time or some 200,000 pensioners directly 
dependent on the state for their livelihood. The most recent figures, 
from the period just after the 1991 Gulf War are: 822,000 on the state 
civilian payroll, including some 200,000 working for the various state 
and party security services, approximately 400,000 in active duty 
with the armed forces and some 350,000 pensioners. In proportional 
terms, this means that the civilian state apparatuses employ around 
21 percent of the active workforce, and that around 40 percent of 
Xy haqi households are directly dependent on government payments. 14 ~x3~ 

As the population was linked individually to the state apparatus, 
forms of collective identities replacing the old pre-capitalist ones 
could not emerge. The influx of Arab and Asian migrant workers, 
encouraged by the state, ensured the presence of a reserve army of 
labor that could suppress any demands by Iraqi workers for better 
living and work conditions. The relative economic prosperity made 
such demands less pressing and any collective action a risky business 
that could bring the wrath of the state agencies. To further the 
atomization of the population, individual petitions requesting (but 
not demanding) wage increases or special favors were sympatheti- 
cally looked upon, while unions and autonomous associations were 
harshly suppressed. Improvements in the living conditions were seen 
as makrama (largesse) from the leadership, not rights acquired by 
the population. 

Under such circumstance, the state's sudden withdrawal from 
economic and social life following the 1987 privatization schemes, 
coupled with the regime's flagrant bias towards certain clans and 
regions in handing over privileges, left the vulnerable sections of 
the population with their backs to the wall under the rule of the 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

226 Iraq 

Egyptian Infttah type of savage profiteering capitalism and lawless 
mafias directly related to Saddam Hussein. It was only natural that 
individuals so atomized, would attach themselves to whoever would 
look out for their losses and defend their rights. Deprived of the 
rights, experience and material basis to associate in secular associa- 
tions, vulnerable members of society found shelter in their revived 
sectarian, tribal or regional loyalties. An impoverished political culture 
that has dominated Iraq for decades contributed to the adoption of 
oppositional strategies that are sometimes mirror images of the 
regime's politics. 

However, Kurdish nationalist feelings should not be put on a par 
with sectarian or even regional solidarities/loyalties. The former has 
a long history of struggle for self-determination in a world that is 
formed and shaped along national lines, which gives it legitimacy 
and validity. Whether the Kurds will end up as a federal part of Iraq, 
or as an independent state, their distinct feelings of belonging to a 
nation cannot be overlooked. Yet, Kurdishness, just like any other 
identity, is not exclusive. It may devolve into sub-national solidarity, 
as the sad present divisions between Bahdini (western) and Surani 
(eastern) Kurds have shown. It can also be accommodated with the 
A\ pan-Iraqi solidarity that many Kurds still feel, even after decades of A\ 

v bloody repression at the hands of Arab-dominated regimes. v 

Sectarian divisions, on the other hand, are much less acute in Iraq 
than they are normally portrayed. No significant Sunni or Shi'ite 
community has ever voiced non-Iraqi loyalty. The ferocious battles 
fought by the Iraqi army, the bulk of whose rank and file is Shi'ite, 
in the war against Iran has demonstrated that nationalism (whether 
in a just national war or one whipped up by propaganda) takes 
precedence over sectarian identity. The regime's deep legitimacy crisis 
has opened the door not for secessionist tendencies, but for redefining 
(or rectifying) the concepts of majority rule in Iraq. In a country 
whose single largest community is Shi'ite, which has never had a 
leading role in power and policy-making, it is only natural that the 
call for democracy should be intermingled with sectarian slogans. If 
Iraq is ever able to resume its development schemes, and the wheels 
of the economy to start rolling again, the struggle over privileges and 
access to means of living would lessen the tensions that have 
sharpened over the past 15 years. Additional factors are likely to play 
a positive role in this respect; most important of all is that the role 
of the state will have to be redefined . It is here, in the socio-economic 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 227 

sphere where is to be found the second source of Iraq's insecurity 
that has been masked by the clamor about its economic "miracle/' 


The precarious balance among the components of Iraqi society, and 
thus the autonomy of the state, was maintained through a bribing 
mechanism made possible by the exceptional oil boom of the 1970s. 
However, rifts began to appear in the 1980s, as Iraq's economic 
performance lagged behind its neighbors. The sanctions of the 1990s 
exacerbated social tensions and deprived Iraqis of the means to unite 
against the regime. Even if in some remote future, Iraq can achieve 
its goals of doubling its oil exports and oil prices do not drop, per 
capita oil revenues will not exceed one half of their 1970s level. 
Without putting Iraq's record in due perspective, we cannot 
understand how the sanctions have further atomized the population 
and deformed its social structure. 

The Gulf War of 1991 and a decade of sanctions masked the fact 
that Iraq had been heading towards a socio-economic crisis even 
prior to invading Kuwait. In fact, the invasion itself was a failed 
r ^\ attempt at stemming that crisis. 13 Like many other aspects concerning r ~\ 

v Iraq's plight, the crisis ha s gone unseen because critics of the sanctions v 

have given the impression (gained from hasty visits to Baghdad) that 
Iraq was a social Utopia. Eor years Iraqis were bombarded with 
statements presented as obvious facts (not infrequently in superla- 
tives) about their country. They had to live with and consent to these 
statements, which they knew were not true, because the "experts" 
were fighting for the same cause: namely, lifting the crippling sanctions 
on the Iraqi people. 

The debate around the sanctions regime has been locked in a 
partisan discourse (whose victims have been ordinary Iraqis) on the 
one hand, and one about human and social and economic rights on 
the other. However, as the pressures on the US justifiably mounted 
to lift the sanctions imposed on Iraq, one can turn to the other side 
of the argument that is no less corrupting to the human-rights 
discourse than that of the official US media. A good example is 
provided by the use of the resignations of a series of respectable and 
credible figures from international bodies in charge of sanctions- 
related missions in Iraq. In October 1998, Denis J. Halliday, Assistant 
Secretary- General of the UN, resigned in protest over a program that 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

228 Iraq 

he labeled an "all-out effort to starve to death as many Iraqis as 
possible/' This was followed by the resignation of two other officials. 16 

Such courageous moves by three prominent international officials 
contributed crucially to raising public awareness not only of the 
tragic situation in Iraq, but also of the world's, especially the United 
States, responsibility in inflicting so much damage on the health and 
well-being of a small Third World country. Yet the humanitarian 
tragedy in Iraq was not an abstract notion. It can be measured using 
indicators pertaining to education, health, services and, most of all, 
life. Unfortunately these indicators are not taken into account as 
"defending the Iraqi people's social rights" takes the form of pater- 
nalistic statements that ridicule a people's untold suffering under 
their own ruling regime. Mr. Halliday is quoted as saying that: "Under 
Saddam Hussein, Iraq had had the best civilization in the Middle East, 
with universal medical care, the finest hospitals, free university 
education for all qualified and overseas grants for graduate students/' 17 
Halliday went on to add: "a once-proud civilization had been reduced 
to third world status/' 

Other propagandists, now "UN experts" echoed these statements: 
"[Iraq] was a country with a high standard of living, a terrific 
educational system, and the best public health in the region/' 18 
-^3~ Ironically, such aggrandizing statements were launched by the US a ~^y~ 

decade ago for exactly the opposite reason: to show how menacing 
Iraq had become and therefore to help cement an international 
alliance to face Saddam Hussein. It was at that time that the world 
began to know of the nuclear capabilities and the "fifth largest army 
on earth/' Now it is these same critics of the US that are grieving over 
the "reduction of Iraq into a third world country/' Such statements, 
though apparently very neutral, convey the false image that Iraq 
belonged to another group of countries: the industrialized ones. 

Did Iraq have the best civilization in the Middle East? The best 
educational standards and health services? The former Iraqi regime 
thrived on such propaganda, not only to show its achievements, but 
also to give the impression that the deteriorating situation was the 
fault of others. In order to verify these claims, 1 have chosen to take 
Iraq's record over three periods of time: the 1970s, when Iraq's financial 
resources were at their highest and social and economic tensions had 
been at their nadir; the 1980s when Iraq was plunged into war with 
Iran; and the disastrous 1990s. However, Iraq's real record cannot 
only be judged diachronically; it is more important to look at its 
performance in a regional perspective. Therefore, I chose two sets of 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 229 

countries: the first set comprises Syria and Jordan, who had enjoyed 
smaller resources than their eastern neighbor, while the other consists 
of the oil rentier economies in the south: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and 
the United Arab Emirates. 

The findings from this comparative approach are very interesting. 
Despite the fact that Iraqis had indeed made great strides in their 
socio-economic conditions throughout the 1970s and more modest 
ones in the 1980s, the evidence shows that Iraq was not an exceptional 
case in the region. Actually, putting that experience in regional and 
temporal context, Iraq shows a disappointing record even in 
comparison to its much poorer neighbors, if one bears in mind the 
huge revenues of the post-1973 oil boom. Tables 7.1-7.6 tell Iraq's 
story prior to the imposition of the sanctions regime. The latest figures 
recorded in some of these tables relate to 1992. At that time the effects 
of the sanctions, most of which are medium to- long-term, had not 
yet been felt significantly. 

Table 7.1 gives a picture of the distorted effects that relying on oil 
has had on Iraq. Around $80 billion in oil revenues accrued to the 
country within a period of six years, compared to $6.5 billion to Syria 
and none to Jordan during the same period. Thanks to this windfall 
gain, Iraq's per capita GDP jumped from a little over 80 percent of 
Xy that of Syria to almost four times that of its neighbor in the 1990s. ~x3~ 

Yet, while one can take fluctuations in per capita GDP as indicators 
of the actual performance of most other economies, this is not the 
case in the rentier economies of the region. This is because oil price 
fluctuations in the world market can produce corresponding changes 
in the fortunes of a national rentier economy, although no significant 
changes may have taken place in the levels of production, produc- 
tivity or investments in the country. 

In addition, the impressive per capita GDP figure of 1990 hid 
alarming trends that had been at work during the 1980s. During the 
war with Iran, Iraq was kept afloat by generous grants and loans from 
Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who pumped an average 310,000 barrels 
per day (bpd) of oil on its behalf. In actual terms, however, Iraq's 
growth rates in constant prices went down by 1.7 percent between 
1980 and 1990. The per capita GDP went down by 4.7 percent, and 
an individual's consumption of food rose from 46.3 percent of the 
income in 1979 to 50.2 percent in 1988, an indicator of declining 
incomes. 19 

More alarming still is the fact that Iraq was actually de-investing 
throughout the 1980s, which would have shown in a further decrease 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


230 Iraq 

in the country's production capacity and income. Against a spectacular 
rise of 21.7 percent in gross domestic capital formation (GDCF in 
constant prices) in the 1970s, the rate was minus 7.5 percent in the 
1980s. In other words, whatever production occurred was actually 
thanks to the assets added in the 1970s. This 7.5 decrease in capital 
formation for the economy as a whole was unevenly distributed 
among the sectors of the economy, with GDCF decreasing by 11.2 
percent in agriculture, 20.0 percent in construction, 23.7 percent in 
transport, 9.6 percent in manufacturing, and 8.2 percent in social and 
personal services. An additional indicator is that, while machinery 
represented around 27 percent ofGDCF in the 1970s, this went down 
to 16 percent in the 1980s. zo With such a prolonged decrease in 
investment in productive sectors and productive assets (machinery), 
Iraq's prospects for regaining its 1970s growth rates in the near future 
were impossible. 

Iraq's high dependence on oil (which is not inevitable, but the 
result of economic policy-making) contributed to its vulnerability to 
externally imposed shocks, such as the 1990s sanctions. The three 
last columns in Table 7.1 provide the relevant indicators. Iraq and 
Syria are the only two countries in this table that have a significant 
agricultural potential and, although Syria does not generally run an 
-^3~ efficient economy or agriculture sector, Iraq lagged behind in all ~^y~ 

indicators. When Iraq's resources were strained under the impact of 
the war with Iran, it exploited less than half of its cultivable land as 
compared with more than 90 percent in the case of Syria. In terms 
of the efficiency of its agriculture, Iraq also lagged behind, as can be 
gauged from the number of tractors and harvesters per 1,000 agri- 
cultural population. This, it should be noted, was a direct outcome 
of the rentier nature of the economy, which encouraged massive 
rural-urban migration, raised urban incomes and depressed rural 
ones, without in the meantime raising productivity in agriculture. 
The availability of foreign exchange made it easy to import food and 
agricultural products. The dire consequences of all this were to be seen 
after the imposition of sanctions in 1990. 

Table 7.2 outlines Iraq's performance in human development 
further. Here the pace of urbanization is only surpassed by Saudi 
Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Whereas many have 
taken this rate as an indicator of how modern Iraq has become, the 
cancerous growth of large unproductive cities, coupled with the dete- 
riorating agricultural sector, was caused by the rentier pattern that 
the state has followed, and contributed to aggravate the rentier structure 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 





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Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

232 Iraq 

in its turn. Z2 More and more people came to depend on the state as 
employees and pensioners without making any commensurate con- 
tribution to the production of wealth. Thus, in a span of three decades, 
Iraq's urban population went from roughly the same level as Syria, 
to a level more than 20 percent higher, matching that of Saudi Arabia . 
Was this a sign of modernization? A look at the percentages of female 
participation in the workforce reveals an appalling record. Iraq was 
slightly ahead only of Saudi Arabia in the period 1982-85, less than 
40 percent of Syria and around 70 percent of Jordan and Kuwait. By 
the period 1990-92, female participation was no less appalling: Iraq 
was on the same level with the UAE, 60 percent of Jordan, 40 percent 
of Syria, one percentage point behind Saudi Arabia, and one-quarter 
the level of Kuwait. 23 

What about the "terrific" health standards? The influx of huge 
windfall oil revenues on the region for an uninterrupted period of 
almost two decades undoubtedly gave governments ample 
opportunity to raise health standards. The Middle East has indeed 
made positive strides in this respect despite wide corruption, ineffi- 
ciency, and the squandering of much wealth on armament and 
luxuries. Here again, Iraq's record is far from impressive in relative 
rf\ terms. In 1960, life expectancy was higher than Saudi Arabia and rt\ 

slightly higher than Jordan's. By 1982-85, Iraq was lagging behind 
all the countries under comparison including the poorer Jordan and 
Syria. Whereas it was 1.5 years ahead of Jordan and 1.3 years behind 
Syria, the gap widened to become 4-5 years two decades later. In fact, 
Syria and Jordan both surpassed Saudi Arabia, and only Kuwait and 
the UAE were approaching European life-expectancy levels. 

By 1992 the gap between the countries in the table was narrowing, 
but Iraq was still lagging behind them all. The last three columns of 
Table 7.2 tell basically the same story: a positive record for the region 
over the three-decade period. In 1960 only Kuwait had an infant 
mortality rate of less than 100, while all the rest had their rates above 
130 per thousand, with Iraq ahead of Saudi Arabia and the UAE and 
slightly behind Jordan and Syria. The following quarter-century 
witnessed a drastic reduction in infant mortality in the whole region: 
Kuwait to one-fourth, Iraq to less than one-half, but with Iraq 
maintaining the highest infant mortality rate in the region, with the 
gap between it and its neighbors no longer a matter of a few percentage 
points, as was the case in 1960; it was more than double the rate in 
the Emirates, three and a half times Kuwait, one and a half the rate 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 





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Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


234 Iraq 


of Jordan and Syria, and with 10 dead infants per 1000 more than 
Saudi Arabia. In 1992, the whole region further improved its record, 
with Saudi Arabia having the fastest decrease. In fact, the gap did 
not narrow between Iraq and its neighbors: it grew wider with Saudi 
Arabia (double), almost three times that of the Emirates and four 
times Kuwait's, almost double the rate of Jordan and one and a half 
that of Syria. 

Iraq's poor performance relative to its resources until 1990 and to 
the performance of its neighbors can be examined in more detail 
with the aid of Tables 7.3 and 7.4. In absolute terms, all the countries 
under consideration achieved great progress during the period under 
discussion, as noted; but, whereas Iraq witnessed a steady decrease 
of its food production per capita, bringing it down by 30 percent in 
less than a decade, Syria witnessed a fantastic rise which more than 
doubled the per capita food production, despite the fact that both 
countries have roughly the same rate of population growth. The 
Iran-Iraq war contributed only partially to the decline of Iraq's 
agriculture, by draining human resources to the war and damaging 
agricultural land, especially in the two fertile governorates of Basra 
and Diyala. But the real factors have remained structurally based. 
Table 7.3 shows clearly that in 1973, seven years before the beginning 
of the war, per capita food production was higher than that of 
1974-76, indicating that the decline began long before, and was 
related to the neglect of agriculture due to the oil price hikes of the 
1970s. Z4 Despite that, and relying on a spiraling food import bill, 
Iraqis were only second to Saudis in their daily calorie intake on the 
eve of the invasion of Kuwait, while the daily protein intake in the 
mid-1980s was only ahead of Jordan. 


Table 7.3 Iraq's nutrition indicators in a regional context 

Country Daily Calories as a Per Capita Food Per Capita 

Percentage of Requirements production Protein Intake 

1974-76=100 (gm./day) 

1965 1982-85 1988-90 1973 1982-85 1973 1982-85 










































Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 235 

Table 7.4 gives a more accurate picture of the efforts made by 
governments of the region, since unlike agricultural production or 
migratory patterns, the indicators listed below depend directly on 
public investment and spending aimed at improving the quality of 
life. As can be seen from column 6, in all countries between 97 and 
100 percent of the population had access to health services by the 
second half of the 1980s (although the quality of this service is ques- 
tionable). Iraq was the lowest (or second lowest) in the percentage 
of population who had access to safe water in 1980 and in 1988-91, 
but in absolute terms it made significant improvement (from 70 
percent to 91 percent), while Syria made a miniscule improvement, 
from 71 percent to 73 percent. In this period, Iraq surpassed only 
Jordan in the percentage of population with access to sewage system. 23 

Table 7.4 Iraq's health indicators in a regional context 


Access to safe 


Access to 

Access to 


per doctor 





















































* Percentage of population. 

" Doctors in public service only. 

*" 51 percent in 1973. 

However, Iraq's worst performance was in the number of available 
doctors. Z6 In the mid-1980s Iraq had the second worst record in the 
number of per capita physicians after Syria. The indicator was double 
that of Jordan and almost three times that of Kuwait and the Emirates. 
By 1 990 Iraq had made only slight progress, while the other countries, 
with the exception of the UAE, were forging much faster ahead and 
overtaking Iraq. Jordan reached the same level as Saudi Arabia and 
Kuwait. In Syria the number of individuals per doctor decreased by 
more than one half and only the Emirates had a worse record. Z7 

Table 7.5 tells a similar story about Iraq's achievement in the 
educational field. Its literacy rates were lower than all the countries 
examined except Saudi Arabia, which lagged far behind all others in 



Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 



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Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

238 Iraq 

1970. By 1992, the whole region made a considerable advance, most 
sensationally in Saudi Arabia (from 9 to 64 percent). Iraq had the 
lowest literacy rate in 1992. Yet, relying on the data in columns 3 and 
4, one can assume that the situation was improving as enrollment 
in primary schools was at its highest in Iraq. A figure of more than 
100 percent is an indicator of a campaign against illiteracy that targets 
people outside the school age bracket. Nevertheless, the 1990 figures 
do not support (indeed, they actually refute) the notion that Iraq 
was making great strides ahead of its regional neighbors. In primary 
and secondary stages of education, Iraq lagged behind all its Arab 
neighbors with the exception of Saudi Arabia. In higher education, 
it was only ahead of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In higher and 
secondary education, Iraq was far behind its poor neighbor, Jordan. 
By way of a conclusion, 1 have tried to put the Iraqi "miracle" into 
a wider perspective by comparing Iraq's performance with Iran, and 
the world regions in general (Tables 7.6 and 7.7). Iraq's data is relative 
to the zenith of its progress (i.e. the last stage before the invasion of 
Kuwait), while those for other regions are from the early 1990s. As 
can be seen, Iraq had a higher urbanization rate than Iran, the Middle 
East and North Africa regions (MENA), and the lower-middle-income 
^ x group of countries (LMG). Life expectancy was lower than in Iran, ^ 

U^ and slightly lower than in the wider region to which it belongs, yet \JJ 

it had the highest infant mortality rate, the difference with Iran and 
the LMG being quite considerable. Iraq showed a relatively impressive 
record only in access to safe water, where it was slightly higher than 

Table 7.7 Iraq in a world context 


Adult literacy 

Life expectancy 

rate percentage 





Sub-Saharan Africa 



South Asia 



East Asia 



East Asia (exc. China) 



South-East Asia & Pacific 



Latin America & the Caribbean 



Industrial Countries 






•frurrea Iraq: same as Tables 7.1-7.5; UNDP (1996), Human Devekpment Riport (New York: 
Oxford University Press), p. 209. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 239 

Iran, but much higher than the LMG. In the field of illiteracy, the 
percentage of illiterate Iraqis was double that of the LMG, but lower 
than MENA and Iran. The variations in primary school enrollment 
were not significant, but were impressive for all categories. 

Finally, Table 7.7 serves as a conclusion to this section. Iraq's higher 
life expectancy than the world average, Southeast and South Asia, 
and Sub-Saharan Africa, and its higher literacy rate than only Sub- 
Saharan Africa and South Asia, are indicators of the positive 
improvements in the Middle East in general, rather than of Iraq's 
exceptional performance. We have seen that, when compared to its 
regional neighbors, Iraq had the worst record even in comparison with 
countries that relied on external aid, such as Jordan. 


The partisan debate about Iraq's record is not confined to that age- 
old controversy about prioritizing social and economic rights over 
political rights or vice versa. The legacy of the Cold War corruption 
of the human-rights discourse is being pursued today in "smoothing" 
Iraq's indefensible record of political and individual rights. Out of 
naivete or cynicism, Iraq is labeled as a dictatorship among many 
-^3~ similar ones in the Third World or the Middle East. So why does the ~^y~ 

US and its allies care more about overthrowing Saddam Hussein? 
Iraq's highly unrepresentative regime cannot be dissociated from its 
structural crisis. In fact, the nature of the regime encapsulates its 
societal crisis. 

Undoubtedly, those outsiders who advance the view that Saddam's 
regime is but one among other dictatorships, are rightly questioning 
the credibility of the US and other superpowers, which have defended 
and supported dictators (including Saddam) whenever doing so suited 
their interests, while selectively denouncing others who stood against 
them. Ironically, many journalists have reported the same view from 
Baghdad. Many Iraqis feel that Saddam Hussein remained in power 
thanks to some hidden US agenda to keep him in place and because 
of the double standards applied here and elsewhere. Many people have 
lost their sensitivity towards what is happening around them, because 
of their inability to verify the real record of each dictatorship, or of 
ascertaining whether a certain regime is a dictatorship in the first place. 

However, the critics of the US are no less complicit in corrupting 
human rights when they portray the Iraqi dictatorship as just one 
among many. Apart from the fact that Saddam Hussein was the only 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

240 Iraq 

post-World War II ruler who occupied and annexed a sovereign 
country, which makes his regime punishable according to inter- 
national law, the level of atrocities the regime committed against its 
own people may only be compared to that of Pol Pot of Cambodia. 
To denounce this regime as a mere dictatorship is tantamount to 
complicity to genocide. 

Even at the risk of repetition, let me state some of the most horrific 

* Between 1987 and 1988, a ten-legged genocide operation, ai- 
Anfal, cost the lives of between 120,000 and 180,000 Kurdish 
children, women and elderly (i.e. 1 percent of Iraq's population 
at the time). The use of chemical weapons in this operation 
has been confirmed. In addition, more than 4,000 Kurdish 
villages were wiped out with the aim of putting an end to the 
partisan movement against the regime. This operation has been 
documented by Human Rights Watch. Z8 

* In March 1988, the Kurdish town of Halabja was destroyed by 
air raids using chemical weapons. Around 5,000 are estimated 
to have perished in this operation. 

* Between March and April 1991, an estimated 40,000-60,000 
-^3~ Arab and Kurdish Iraqis were brutally killed during the ~^jr 

suppression of the anti-regime intifada. Eyewitnesses and 
videotapes tell of burning or burying people alive. 

* The number of Iraqis living in exile is estimated at 3-4 million 
(i.e. one out 7-8 Iraqis). The Iranian Ministry of Interior gives 
the number of Iraqi refugees residing there at 580,000. Among 
those are 200,000 Iraqi Shi'ites who were collectively deported 
between 1980 and 1981. Those between the ages of 16 and 45 
were separated from their families and "disappeared" in Iraqi 
prisons. 29 

* Eleeing the Iraqi Republican Guard, 33,000 Iraqis took refuge 
in Saudi Arabia after the suppression of the 1991 intifada. The 
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has 
found shelters for 24,000 of these in Europe, the US and 
Australia. 30 

* The above figures do not include an estimated 60-70,000 Eaili 
Kurds collectively deported to Iran in 1970-71. 

* According to the UN Secretary-General, there are more than 
half a million internally displaced Iraqis living in the three 
Kurdish governorates of Arbil, Dhawkand Sulaimaniyya. Half 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 241 

of those had been displaced before 1991, 150,000 between 1991 
and 1995, and 100,000 in 1996. The latter groups have been 
the victims of the ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish regions that 
are still tinder the regime's control. 31 

Despite the appalling record of human right abuses and dictatorship 
in much of the Arab world (and Third World), no other dictatorship, 
perhaps with the exception of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, rivals that 
of Iraq. Flattening out that record through the hollow term of "dic- 
tatorship" shows no sensitivity towards human lives, which should 
be the main asset of the critics of the sanctions regime. 


Saddam Hussein himself showed little sign that he was moved by 
his people's plight. To him, as to those who were enforcing the 
sanctions, they were hostages, bargaining chips, whose very 
suffering was an asset. Thus he would arrange displays of dead 
children to shame his enemies. „But the dead children were real. 
The tragedy was that in aiming at the hostage taker, the United 
r ^\ States and its remaining allies were killing the hostages. 33 r ~\ 

In the post-Cold War era, "sanctions" turned into a panacea for 
the world's ills. In the first 45 years since the establishment of the 
UN, sanctions were only imposed on two countries: South Africa and 
Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). From 1990 onwards, the number 
of countries targeted by sanctions has more than quadrupled. This 
could have been welcome news, a sign of a shift to a world where a 
set of more humane measures that do not target civilians would 
replace devastating wars as a means of enforcing compliance with 
international law. 

Sanctions have become such a favorite means of punishment that 
we tend to forget that they involve a very wide range of measures. 
Because of the precedent that Iraq had set by being the first country 
that occupied the full territory of another sovereign member of the 
United Nations, the sanctions were the harshest ever imposed on 
any country in modern history. The harshness of the measures was 
legitimated by the fact that Iraq had "breached" international security, 
whereas in all the other cases, the punishment was for "posing a 
threat" to world peace. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


242 Iraq 

Nonetheless, in order to judge the effectiveness of the sanctions, 
we have to weigh them against their objectives on the one hand, 
and the costs incurred while implementing them on the other. As is 
well known, the sanctions were imposed on Iraq with the following 
initial aims: 

* To force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. 

* To ensure a clean bill of health on Iraq's weapons of mass 
destruction, including means of medium and long-range 

* To prevent the Iraqi regime from threatening its neighbors. 

While the objectives were more or less well defined, the mechanisms 
through which sanctions would achieve them were never made clear; 
they were merely assumed. Because Iraq was only the third country 
targeted by UN sanctions, and because these sanctions have indeed 
contributed to the fall of the white minority rule in Rhodesia, and 
have had positive effects on the disintegration of South Africa's 
apartheid regime, a vague optimistic analogy may have been at work 
here. Yet, the same powers that imposed the sanctions on Iraq 
implicitly admitted their insufficiency within less than six months 
Xy of their imposition. The launching of Operation Desert Storm in ~x3~ 

January 1991 and the recourse to a devastating air campaign against 
Iraq was a plain recognition that the sanctions would not force 
Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait. The 1991 Gulf War came 
to a halt when the allies succeeded in liberating Kuwait (i.e. in 
achieving the first objective of the sanctions); yet rather than revising 
the whole rationale for continuing the sanctions, the major powers 
continued them as a means of tightening the noose around the Iraqi 
regime. The question that should be asked here is: did the sanctions 
contribute to forcing Iraq to dispense with its WMD and to weakening 
Saddam's regime? If yes, then at what cost? 

One way of approaching this admittedly complex question is the 
simple "y es " * which is what we have been continuously hearing 
from the US administration; Saddam Hussein was weaker than ever, 
UNSCOM was able to disclose and destroy large amounts of Iraqi 
WMD, therefore the sanctions should stay in place. As for the cost, 
the former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, was more than 
frank during that chilling interview with CBS News correspondent 
Lesley Stahl: 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 243 

haul: We have heard that half a million children have died. 1 mean, 
that's more children than died in Hiroshima.. As the price worth it? 
Albright: 1 think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think 
the price worth iL ?A 

Unfortunately, such an answer a voids the main issues that lie at the 
heart of the sanctions regime, and eludes the search for sound means 
of ensuring a secure Iraq and safe and secure Middle East, which should 
be the real objectives behind the search and destruction of Iraq's WMD. 
Without addressing these issues, the approach that has been applied 
until now will only lead to counter-effects, as 1 will try to show. 

First, why didn't the sanctions lead to similar effects to those 
imposed on the two racist systems of Africa? The simple answer is 
that, although the latter were forms of dictatorships, they had been 
accountable to a constituency, albeit a narrow one: namely, the white 
minority. The legal channels for expressing dissent and objection 
and for voting out a government had already been put in place. In 
the case of Iraq, the problem was not how to foment dissent. It was 
already there. But the tyrannical structure of the regime was far from 
responsive or sensitive to the people's views and aspirations. Thus, 
pinning one's hopes on the application of popular pressure to bring 
Xy about the regime's compliance with UN resolutions is only self- ~x3~ 

deceptive, unless one is thinking of mass protests in the form of 
revolution or rebellion. But did the sanctions contribute to making 
such a prospect closer? In other words, did a decade of sanctions alter 
the functioning of the Iraqi state and society? Has it led to the 
weakening of the state's grip on society and improved the chances 
for a democratic transition in Iraq, as much of the US rhetoric implies? 
Or did it cement the unity between the leadership and the people, 
as the regime's propaganda claims? Such claims call for a re- 
examination of the meaning of "strength" and "weakness", because 
casting statements about the weakened Iraqi regime are quite 
misleading, unless the weakness of the regime is weighed against 
that of society. 

As can be seen from the last two columns of Table 7.8, sanctions 
against Iraq, unlike other countries, hit ordinary people the hardest. 
The comprehensiveness of the sanctions was aggravated by the fact 
that the country depended almost totally on imports for the survival 
of its population. Without claiming to present a survey, the following 
three tables give an ample idea of the comparative fortunes of Iraqis 
after a decade of sanctions. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

244 Iraq 

Table 7.8 A decade of sanctions ■ 
(thousands or per thousand) 

Iraq and the region: population* 








under 5 

under 18 

no. of 





















































* Data updated for 2001. 

Source: Tables 7.8-7.10: 

Table 7.9 A decade of sanctions: health and living standards 








GNI per 

population with 

population with 



access to safe water 

to adequate sanitation 

































































Table 7. 10 A decade of sanctions: educational record 



literacy rate 

Primary school 



enrollment ratio 

enrollment ratio 




























































Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 245 

The main defendants of the sanctions, the US and the UK, repeated 
time and again that the problem was created by Saddam himself, 
who was wickedly exploiting the plight of his people. This is partly 
true; Iraq was allowed to import as much for humanitarian needs as 
it could afford. This argument seemed to gain more credibility with 
the adoption of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 
Resolutions 698 (Oil-for-Food) and later 1284, allowing Iraq to export 
as much oil as it could in order to satisfy civilian needs, as well as 
implementing the partial easing of restrictions on imports; but the 
human tragedy is still there. Impartial observers agree that even 
Resolution 1284 could not solve the problem, and blaming Saddam, 
rightly, for squandering Iraq's wealth and exploiting his people to gain 
political advantage does not absolve the US from being the chief 
party responsible for perpetuating a policy that was clearly damaging 
Iraqi society. 

The simple reason for the failure of these resolutions to address the 
real problem is that Iraq's ability to import, and not to export, has 
been crippled by an objective reality in today's world: namely that 
an infinitely wide variety of material can be used to produce weapons 
of mass destruction. Scrutinizing and banning such imports is not 
only futile, but is tantamount to cancelling out any positive step 
Xy taken on the export front. ~x3~ 

What was the overall impact of this situation on Iraqi society and 
politics? The above tables and a host of many reliable surveys have 
clearly demonstrated the impact of sanctions in terms of rising poverty, 
malnutrition, infant mortality, begging, prostitution and crime. The 
tight restrictions on legal imports were manipulated by influential 
sectors within Iraq's power structure to cushion themselves against 
any adverse effects, while weakening the rest of Iraqi society. Any 
traveler to Baghdad can easily verify the availability of practically 
every type of item and good. A flourishing smuggling activity served 
to foster a network of powerful interests running from the sons of 
influential figures (headed by Saddam's son Uday) to merchants, 
sanctions-profiteers and intermediaries. The lesser beneficiaries 
included sections of intelligence officers, special Republican Guards 
members, ordinary truck drivers, retail traders, and money exchangers. 
The main mechanism through which these powerful strata were 
profiting is inflation, which is the logical consequence in an 
atmosphere of general scarcity of goods and services. That is why we 
can state that, while sanctions were a societal and economic shock 
that had to produce inflation, the astronomical rates of inflation 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

246 Iraq 

were not inevitable. They were created, intentionally or not, by the 
former regime and its powerful figures, through recourse to printing 
money, spreading organized rumors to withdraw hard currency from 
the hands of people, and creating market shortages. 33 

Table 7.1 1 The shrinking dinar 

Date Dinars per US $ 

1979 0.312 

1987 2.8 

October 1989 3.22 

January 1992 13.15 

March 1992 17.5 

January 1994 140.0 

March 1995 1,200.0 

January 1996 2,950 

December 1998 1,850 

February 1999 1,790 

End 1999 1,550 

End 2001 1,850 

Source: Compiled by the author from various press reports and first-hand sources. 

-^3~ A glance at the sequence of the deterioration of the exchange value ~^y~ 

of the Iraqi dinar shows first that the drop was aggravated - but not 
caused- by the sanctions, that the deterioration began in the 1980s, 
when the dinar lost some 65 percent of its value; second, that the 
deterioration spiraled after 1993, and third, that the escalation between 
1996 and end of 2001 was driven largely by US plans to overthrow 
Saddam's regime. 

Therefore, given the regime's social structure, the sanctions' main 
impact was to empower those who were already powerful and to 
impoverish the victims and potential or actual opponents of the 
regime. Iraqi semi-official sources today admit the widening gap 
between rich and poor due to the sanctions, naturally without 
reference to the politically powerful as the main benefactors. The 
suffering of the people due to American policy, we are told, is being 
exploited by a handful of profiteers. Even as the data is censored 
and manipulated, serious attempts at measuring the widening gap 
have shown alarming indicators. The Iraqi Society of Economists 
estimates that in 1993, the top 20 percent of the population 
possessed 47 percent of Iraq's national income, while the bottom 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 247 

40 percent only 14 percent. 36 Ai Muhajir (1997: 40) showed that 
the bottom 5 percent had to make due with 0.8 of total income, 
while the top 5 percent encroached upon 21 .2 percent of incomes. 37 

However, poverty and huge income differentials alone do not 
account for the disintegration of Iraq's social fabric. Many Third 
World societies suffer from levels of poverty and income differen- 
tials that are worse than today's Iraq, yet we cannot designate them 
as disintegrating. We have to link these phenomena with the 
atomization and rentierism that had been dealt with earlier in this 
chapter. It is these factors together with a high level of dependence 
on the state that paralyzed Iraqi society under the sanctions and gave 
the central state more power vis-a-vis members of society. The 
sweeping 1987 privatization program and the pressures of the war 
with Iran had already introduced new trends in Iraq. Poverty, begging, 
crimes, the expansion of the informal sector, were all making their 
way back in a starkly obvious way. The sanctions exponentially 
reinforced these trends, but thay did not create them and, rather 
than blaming the state for their worsening conditions, people are 
encouraged to blame the US and the west in general. 

Also most important is that a weakened state used the rationing 
-^3~ caf d as a means of forcing silence or acquiescence on the populace. ~^y~ 

An efficient program for the distribution of basic needs at nominal 
prices has been in force since 1990. Run through centrally comput- 
erized data, which distributes basics to households via local trading 
agents, this program has been an additional powerful means for 
controlling people's geographic mobility on the one hand, and 
enforcing the government relocation programs - targeting especially 
the Kurds and those who migrate to Baghdad in search of employment 
opportunities. In exchange for food and a minimum of security, 
people kept a facade of silence, or at least did not venture into 
collective oppositional actions. Although symbolic acts of protest 
and signs of hatred towards the regime were rampant, they tended 
to take cynical forms and were not explicitly political. 

As an atomized and sanctions-exhausted population spent the 
bulk of its time chasing bread, an inefficient administrative apparatus 
was functioning under lower costs thanks to the sanctions, a sign of 
the flexibility and adaptability of the Iraqi state to the changing times 
and circumstances. 

This flexibility, it must be stressed, has not been the product of any 
deliberate state policy. Administrations, just like individuals and 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

248 Iraq 

groups, develop survival strategies tinder pressure and in the case of 
the Iraqi state these strategies took different forms. For one thing, the 
drastic decline in civil servants' incomes led to widespread absenteeism 
and desertion by government employees. The result was a less costly 
administration, characterized by a high level of "feminization" of the 
state civil service. The second aspect is that bribery and corruption, 
a tolerated practice despite all the rhetorical threats and denunciation 
by Saddam Hussein and his aides, turned into a means of subsidizing 
state activity. Thus, public service was a good that was sold to citizens 
via negotiated prices. Furthermore, under the pretext of facing 
sanctions, the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) introduced 
the practice of self-finance even to such institutions as state hospitals 
and clinics, secondary schools, and institutions providing basic services 
to the population. 

Thus, rather than showing symptoms of "Somalia syndrome" (a 
highly centralized state apparatus with the majority of the population 
dependent on it), Iraq did indeed show signs of weakness, but could 
also adapt to the new circumstances. Where it was impossible for the 
central coercive, judicial or other agencies to perform their activities, 
"state-appointed" shaikhs were revived, awarded material privileges, 
and assigned the role of intermediaries or arbiters in running the 
Xy affairs of their "subjects". Reviving the institution of shaikhdom, ~x3~ 

however, was a double-edged weapon; urban societies, in Baghdad 
especially, did not harbor any genuine loyalty to these shaikhs, but 
used them as a means of circumventing the hardships of life under 
the sanctions and to provide a measure of protection against the arbi- 
trariness of state agencies, although they were seen as paid agents of 
the state. In the meantime, these shaikhs are cynically playing the 
old balancing game between what is supposed to be their constituen- 
cies and the state. They can be an additional coercive agency against 
the populace whenever the state requires it. However, from the point 
of view of the political center, reviving this institution can be a risky 
venture, because the former Ba'athist regime required a monolithic 
society that glorified the state and its sole leader. 

Analysts and observers have rightly shown that Iraqi society was 
traumatized by the sanctions while the power bloc was still able to 
reap tremendous wealth through various channels. But even in 
political, cultural and moral terms, the sanctions shock has hit Iraqi 
society much harder than the regime. Despite (or perhaps, because 
of) almost two decades of wars, rebellion, numerous coup attempts, 
large-scale waves of violent opposition acts and desertion, and drastic 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 249 

breakdown in the country's infrastructure and virtual collapse of the 
population's standards of living, the Iraqi regime showed a surprising 
capability for survival and stability. 38 Indeed, very few would have 
imagined in 1991 that more than a decade later, the opposition in 
exile would still be discussing overthrowing a regime that has been 
in power for 35 years despite all the misery and pain that it had 
inflicted, and is still inflicting, on the people and the region. Given 
that the contemporary Iraqi state is only eight decades old, 30 years 
of rule by any one regime should look as an outstanding record, and 
may offer an opportunity to rethink the efficacy of sanctions as a 
means of punishing it. 

The legacy of the sanctions is only showing now and it would not 
be over-pessimistic to talk of an embargo generation that will never 
be able to recover from the effects of material deprivation, isolation 
from the outside world, and a sense of being not only neglected and 
forgotten by the international community, but also targeted by that 
community as an enemy. The tragedy lies in the fact that, even with 
the end of the embargo, many unsatisfied needs and much of the 
damage will never be compensated by a higher flow of incomes and 
goods. One needs only to think of the distorted age structure of the 
population caused by the present high infant mortality rate, rising 
Xy illiteracy, school dropouts, and severely malnourished children, as ~x3~ 

few examples of non-recoverable losses. Even where losses can be 
recovered, it will cost far more resources than if the recovery took 
place earlier. Examples of this include the cannibalization of industrial 
equipment and degradation of oil installations. 


While the United States regularly denounces various countries as 
"rogue states", in the eyes of many countries it is becoming a 
rogue superpower. 39 

Even when the Ba'athist system was enjoying the friendship of both 
camps in the Cold War and the support of most Arab countries, it 
tried to build an image of itself as standing in the face of all, sacrificing 
blood in order to defend some exalted idea of the nation. This type 
of aggressive ideology was well suited to facing isolation. The 
humiliating defeat in the 1991 Gulf War has been portrayed as a 
victory in official Iraqi propaganda on the grounds that facing the 
combined might of more than 30 countries, led by the US, is in itself 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

250 Iraq 

a victory; facing sanctions was similarly portrayed as another battle 
that Iraq had to wage in defense of Ba'athist principles. The inescapable 
message that the US and UN were sending via the sanctions was that 
the Iraqi people were being punished for the regime's violations of 
international law. This misperception, which equates Saddam with 
Iraq, was of course more than welcomed by the Ba'athist regime; in 
point of fact, it replicated the internal mythology propagandized by 
the regime. 

An embargo generation that has been through the untold suffering 
of wars, tyranny and sanctions, has developed in conjunction with 
a corrupt and impoverished political culture following three decades 
of monolithic rule. The combination of all these volatile elements is 
likely to produce a levanchist attitude even in the absence of Saddam's 
regime; an attitude of "We'll come back, and the world will see!" If 
the comparison with Germany still holds, then one might use the 
"Versailles complex" as a good precedent, when a post-World War I 
Germany saw others squeezing it for compensation, reparation and 
territory, while the people were left to enjoy their poverty and hunger 
under a Weimar Republic, which the world thought was a peaceful 
democratic system that would last forever. 40 
^ x Iso la ting Sa d d a m's regime was nee essa ry, bu t iso la ting a nd pu nis hing ^ 

viy the Iraqi people by sanctions can have far-reaching and dangerous v.U 

consequences. A persistent question is: what other options did the inter- 
national community have to put pressure on the regime? The impasse 
in US policy lies in the fact that until recently it has put total faith in 
containment through sanctions. The recent change in US policy 
towards Iraq after 11 September has only exposed the limits of the 
superpower's options in dealing with a Third World tyranny. Having 
decided that the sanctions were not going to force Saddam Hussein 
to abandon his intransigent position towards allowing UN inspectors 
back into Iraq, and that even if they were allowed in they would not 
be able to guarantee Iraq's compliance with the relevant UN resolutions, 
US plans turned into war preparations against that country. The reason 
behind this pitiful lack of available options for the only superpower 
in the contemporary world lies in the fact that many nations have 
lost confidence in the US as an impartial broker in international 
conflicts. No one objects to the US administration's pursuit of national 
goals, but US politicians continually give the impression that US 
national interests run contrary to other nations' interests, hence their 
objection to and/or vetoing of an increasing number of international 
agreements, treaties and arrangements. Objecting to the establish- 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 25 1 

ment of an international war crimes tribunal, a powerful means to 
punish Saddam Hussein and his aides, only reinforced the perception 
that America applies hypocritical double standards towards justice. 
Similarly, insisting on Iraq's unequivocal compliance with UNSC 
resolutions while defending Israel's violation of these same resolutions 
deligitimizes many US stances in the Middle East. 

The short-term alternative to sanctions could have included a 
strategy of deterrence. An internationally approved set of principles 
could have drawn red lines for Iraq, clearly defining actions that 
would be considered threatening to its neighbors or to its own people. 
But such a strategy must in the meantime also address Iraq's valid 
security concerns. While crossing the red lines would be deterred, the 
world must commit itself to defending Iraq's sovereignty and integrity. 
As for the punishment of the regime's main figures who have 
committed genocide or war crimes, this should have been left to the 
Iraqi people and to those parties who have suffered from these crimes 
- to be presented before the recently established international court 
for war crimes. 

However, as has been stated above, these measures are only short 
term and cannot address the "Iraq question" adequately unless they 
are integrated within a wider and more constructive vision of the 
rt\ future of this country. It is at this point that the curse of Iraq's -fXX- 

^ geography comes back again. For almost its entire post- World War II vu 

history, Iraq's achievements or setbacks have been perceived by the 
major powers, its weaker neighbors, and certainly Israel, only in terms 
of their implications for regional or international politics. Until the 
1958 revolution, decisions on the level of Iraq's oil production were 
taken with an eye to balancing, punishing, or checking any nationalist 
tide in Iran. In addition, Iraq was a component of the Western Cold 
War strategy of containment symbolized by the Baghdad Pact. 
Following that and until the victory of Iran's Islamic revolution, the 
major powers were interested in Iraq's development only as far as it 
affected the balance of power between the Arab states and Israel. In 
the 1980s, Iraq was needed by the states of the Gulf Cooperation 
Council and the US to threaten the Iranian revolution. However, in 
adopting these strategies, no one posed the simple question: "How 
do we want Iraq to 'check the threat' of Iran, which is three times 
larger in population and area, while in the meantime, posing no 
threat to tiny Kuwait?" 

Raising this question is important, because it shows that perceptions 
of Iraq's place in the region should not focus merely on its balancing 
role, but in terms of what brings stability and prosperity to its people. 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

252 Iraq 

These need not be contradictory objectives if we genuinely believe 
that a prosperous and democratic society is less tempted to go to war. 
This is not to say that Iraqi regimes were innocent victims or pawns, 
but the way the world helped, or withheld help, has greatly 
contributed to inflating the megalomania of leaders who fancied a 
grandiose regional role for themselves, or to pushing them to take a 
defensive position. In all this, the concerns of the Iraqi people were 
never an issue to be reckoned with. As long as Iraq is treated only as 
a regional player, not as a society of human beings with dreams and 
aspirations, any path that Iraqis will choose for their future 
development will be viewed with suspicion or fear by this or that 
power. Reorienting Iraq's choices towards the "Fertile Crescent" (i.e. 
Syria, Lebanon and Jordan), which this chapter strongly supports as 
an economically and culturally sound project that can bring prosperity 
and stability, will only be seen by "strategists" as "destabilizing" the 
regional balance of power. 

The direct bearing of international politics on the fate of Iraqis 
also lies in the way the sanctions are viewed, for it is no longer at issue 
whether it was the regime or the people that was weakened by the 
sanctions. The message of the West is that Iraq (as a polity, infrastruc- 
r f^ ture and society) has been weakened and that is seen as fair, since _£±X 

^ Iraq will not now threaten Israel or its southern neighbors. "The price vE/~ 

is worth it," we are told by former Secretary of State Albright. 

However, this chapter has tried to show that the major threat is 
not the weapons of mass destruction. The potential for manufactur- 
ing them will always be there. Rather, it lies in the will to manufacture 
them and the temptation to use them. Arevanchist embargo generation 
deprived of all other means to compensate for its lost opportunities 
may well fancy such ideas, and ordinary Iraqis, like many Third World 
citizens, have developed a counter- cynic ism towards big slogans by 
"brethren Arabs", or the major powers. After all, the American "religion 
of democracy", as the French foreign minister once called it, has been 
used quite selectively. However, the French counter-religion of non- 
interference has also been instrumental in shielding brutal dictators! 


1. Much has been written on war, political and economic nationalism and 
delineating others as essential components of state and nation formation 
in Europe. For a classical study, see Karl W. Deutsch. Nationalism and 
Social Communication (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1953). For a concise, 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 253 

but problematic, analysis, see Charles Tilly. Coercion, Capital, and Eurcpean 
States, AD 990-1990 (Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, 1990). 

2. The ideological ramifications of Ba'athist politics go beyond the scope 
of this chapter. However, it is interesting to note that the romantic 
portrayal of the nation as destined to fight all others alone is a precon- 
dition for almost every racist and fascist ideology. In distinguishing 
delineating the correct us from the evil others, the stage is set for the claim 
to be leading others, by force if necessary, towards the correct path. Note, 
for example, the following passage in the speech of the founder and 
secretary general of the Ba'ath Party, Michael 'Aflaq, a few months after 
the Iraqi attack on Iran: "The true and profound character of the battle 
fought by Ba'athist Iraq is revealed [as it faces] this alliance of the Christian 
West, Jewish Zionism, atheist communism, and Persian racism under 
the disguise of Islam" (Al-Thawra, 7 April 1981). Four months after the 
ceasefire in the 1991 Gulf War, Deputy Prime Minister Taha Yassine 
Ramadhan responded to a journalist's question about Iraq's relations 
with the USSR and China: "The Arab nation has no friends. And I mean 
exactly what I am saying.... The mere fact that thirty countries with great 
powers among them have agreed to fight Iraq is a victory that the Arabs 
have achieved for the first time in their history" (Taha Yassine Ramadhan, 
Al-HadafNo. 1055, 2 June 1991). 

3. The fact that Iraq's total sea territory is 924 sq. km, and the length of its 
coasts is only 15 km, while Iran's is 2,300 km has been emphasized in 
no less than ten speeches or letters by Saddam during the early days of 
the Iran-Iraq War (e.g. speech of 28.9.1980, press conference 10 November 

C^) 1980, speech in the cabinet meeting of 24.12.1980, and interview with C^) 

Der Spiegel, 1 June 1981). In her semi-official narrative of Saddam's politics, 
Christine Moss Helms makes a detailed reference to these speeches. See 
Christine Moss Helms. Iraq: Eastern Flank of the Arab World (Washington 
DC: The Brookings Institution, 1984), pp. 54-5. The author cites a par- 
ticularly important letter sent by Saddam to the Kuwaiti daily al-Watan 
(1 7 September 1980) that summarizes the benefits of unity with Syria: 
"contiguous territory, complementary economies, internal strength in 
the face of external threats, and the need for sea outlets, especially in 
this oil era." 

4. Three months before the invasion, an official Iraqi memorandum to the 
Kuwaiti government stated that: "The de facto situation, since the formation 
of our two states in this century, is that of two neighboring countries... that 
have not reached an agreement yet on the demarcation of their land and 
sea borders." The memorandum proceeds to lay the principles upon 
which Iraq aspires to demarcate the borders: "{f)irm respect of the sovereignty 
of each of us on our respective territory, and a firm and authentic mutual 
respect between us as states and brothers" (Iraqi memorandum dated 30 
April 1990, italics added). Iraq's memorandum to the Arab League (21 
July 1990; i.e. ten days before the invasion) accepts demarcating the 
borders, but on the condition that Iraq is "in the position that it histor- 
ically and factually deserves, and that enables it to defend national 
security in this region." This entails that "Iraq be given facilities of the 
kind that it had during the war with Iran." Iraq's self-styled triumph over 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


254 Iraq 

Iran was seen as a sufficient reason for the former to acquire additional 
territorial concessions from other states, especially Kuwait. (The texts of 
both memoranda were published in Al-Thawra, 25 July 1990. All texts 
from Iraqi papers are the author's translation.) 

5. A cynical scenario could be that of Saudi Arabia using Saddam Hussein's 
same argument in waging his war against Kuwait: cutting throats is a 
lesser evil than cutting revenues. Thus, Iraq's doubling of its exports can 
be viewed as such: IPSA 1 and 2, the two Iraqi pipelines passing through 
Saudi territory to the Red Sea would be shut down! We should remember 
that it was Saddam Hussein and the Saudis who initiated the practice of 
oil warfare, when they flooded the oil market in 1979 in order to bring 
revolutionary Iran to its knees. 

Another scenario would simply involve Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and 
especially Iran insisting on the payment of Iraq's debts and war reparations, 
thus crippling Iraq's recovery for a long time. 

6. A substantial increase in Iraq's oil production/export capacity will not 
only be worrying to its neighbors. Dr. Fadhil al Chalabi, a leading authority 
on the political economy of oil, notes that: "Iraq's low cost oil threatens 
the huge US investments in high cost places: inside the US, the Caspian 
Sea, West Africa, and the Gulf of Mexico. In 1998, whenoilprices dropped 
below $10, UShigh cost production went down by 600,000 bd." See Iraqi 
File, January 2000/No. 97, pp. 22-3. 

7. That includes Syria, which exports limited quantities of oil, but the quality 
of its domestically produced oil has made her reliant on imports from 
other countries including Iran. 

C^) 8. It should be asserted that this is not to suggest that Iraq should turn its C^) 

back on its historic ties to its southern neighbors, but rather attempt to 
be a bridge between the May en Orient and the Proche Orient. In order that 
the genuine and justifiable suspicions of Iraq's ambitions among Kuwaitis 
and other Gulf Arabs are appeased, Iraq should be very cautious in 
espousing any " integrating" schemes with its southern neighbours. 
9. Reeva S. Simon. "The Imposition of Nationalism on a Non-Nation State: 
The Case of Iraq During the Interwar Period 1921-1941," in James 
Jankowski and Israel Gershoni (eds). Rethinking Nationalism in the Middle 
East (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), p. 87; italics added by 
author. See also Adeed Dawisha. "Iraqi Politics: The Past and Present as 
Context for the Future," in John Calbrese (ed.) The Future of Iraq 
(Washington, DC: The Middle East Institute, 1997), p. 7. 

10. See: HannaBatatu. Jhe Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements 
of Iraq: A Study of Iraq's Old Landed and Commercial Classes and of its 
Communists, Ba'athists, and Free Officers (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University 
Press, 1978); PhebeMarr. JheModern History of Iraq (Boulder, CO: Westview 
Press, 1995); Marion Farouk-Sluglett and Peter Sluglett. Iraq since 1958: 
From Revolution to Dictatorship (London: KPI Limited, 1987). 

11. And in these cases, language is a political tool: the pejorative "hetero- 
geneous" label reserved for countries like Iraq is replaced by such favorable 
terms as "melting point." 

12. On the other hand, the above analysis should not be treated as yet another 
version of historical determinism. Nor should it be confused with what 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 255 

one might consider politically optimal or feasible. In other words, the 
fact that Iraqi Kurdistan has been politically and economically linked to 
Baghdad since the nineteenth century is no evidence of the non-viability 
of a Kurdish state. Alternatively, the fact that the wilayas of Mosul, or 
Basra had been bound within one country does not mean that history 
could not have taken another course. What we are trying to show is that 
domestic social interests and structures have intertwined to produce 
today's Iraq, whatever the British interests had been. 

13. Isam al-Khafaji. "War as a Vehicle for the Rise and Demise of a State- 
Controlled Society: The Case of Ba'athist Iraq/' in Stephen Heydemann 
(ed.) War, Institutions, and Social Change in the Middle East (Berkeley, CA: 
University of California Press, 2000), pp. 258-91; Isam al-Khafaji. 
"Repression, Conformity and Legitimacy: Prospects for an Iraqi Social 
Contract/' in John Calabrese (ed.) Jhe Future of Iraq (Washington DC: The 
Middle East Institute, 1997), pp. 17-30. 

14. Batatu. Jhe Old Social Classes, p. 1126; see also: United Nations. Report to 
the Secretary-General dated IS July 1991 on humanitarian needs in Iraq 
prepared by a mission led by the Executive Delegate of the Secretary-General 
for Humanitarian Assistance in Iraq. S/22799, Geneva, 17 July 1991. 

15. It should be stressed here that this statement in no way means that Iraq 
would have collapsed if it had not invaded Kuwait, nor that the Iraqi 
leadership had viewed Iraq's prospects as totally dim. A (mis)calculation 
that Iraq had gained a privileged regional position following the war 
with Iran, and an attempt at establishing Iraq as a secondary international 
player had in all probability motivated the Iraqi leadership to solve 

C^) problems through means that it had thought would further enhance the C^) 

country's position. 

16. Maggie Farley. "2 Cite Iraq Sanctions in Resignations/' Los Angeles limes 
(2 February 2000). 

17. Edward W. Miller. "Genocide, American Style/' Ihe Coastal Post (October 

18. Phyllis Bennis, interview with Z magazine (July/August 1999). 

19. Ahmed Braihi al-Ali (1991). Taqweem al Siyasat al Iqtisadiyya fil {< Iraq 
lilfatra 1980-1991 [Evaluating Iraq's Economic Policies for the Period 
1980-1991] (Baghdad: Ministry of Planning; Central Bureau of Statistics). 
AAS (Annual Abstract of Statistics) (Baghdad: Ministry of Planning 1989), 
p. 358. 

20. Jam'iyyat al Iqtisadiyyieen al"Iraqiyeen [Iraqi Association of Economists). 
Taqreer al Tanmiya al Bashariya (Human Development Report) (Baghdad 
(n.p.) (1995), pp. 64-6. 

21. Tables 7.1-7.5 are compiled from: Jhe Unified Arab Economic Report [Annual 
report published jointly by the Arab League, the Arab Fund for Social and 
Economic Development, the Arab Monetary Fund, and OAPEC], 1987 
and 1 994, and The World Bank, World Develcpment Report (various issues) 
(Washington DC). 

22. A study carried out by the economic committee of the Iraqi Communist 
Party in 1976 found that the monthly income of a petty clerk in a state 
agency surpassed that of an average owner of 30 dunums of agricultural 
land (one dunum = 2,500 square meters). 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

256 Iraq 

23. The comparison in this respect should be confined to Iraq, Jordan and 
Syria as most of the female workforce in the oil-rich Gulf countries is non- 
indigenous and includes women working in such jcbs as domestic service. 

24. In thelate 1 980s the regime's brutality coupled with the generousUS wheat 
supplies to Iraq had a direct bearing on Iraqi agriculture. Taped cassettes 
captured by the rebellions of 1991 record the following threats by 
Kurdistan's unchallenged governor and cousin of Saddam Hussein: 

By next summer there will be no more villages remaining that are 
spread out here and there throughout the region, but only camps.. .From 

now on I won't give the villagers flour, sugar, kerosene, water, or 
electricity as long as they continue living there.. ..Why should I let 
them live there like donkeys?... For the wheat? I don't want their 
wheat. We've been importing wheat for the past twenty years. Let's 
increase it to another five years. ...I don't want their agriculture. I don't 
want tomatoes; I don't want okra or cucumbers. (Human Rights Watch 
1995: 255) 

During this same period, Iraq was the major importer of US wheat, 
accounting for around 25 percent of its total exports. 

25. Other indicators pertaining to the severe social crises of Iraq in the 1980s 
exist but comparable data from other countries are not available to the 
author. A semi-official report dealing with the housing problem is worth 
quoting here: 

® According to the 1977 census, total housing units in Iraq numbered ^-j-^ 

~~ 1,471,000, inhabited by 1,835,000 families. 660,000 of these houses (45 KU 

percent) were built of mud, or were tents. The deficiency in houses was 
1,024,000 units. By 1987, the housing deficit rose from 1,024,000 to 
1,137,000. Thus, while the average persons per house in 1957 was 5.2, 
it rose, against the trend all over the world, to 7.4 in 1987, compared to 
the 1990 average of 5.5 worldwide, and 5.6 intheESCWA region to which 
Iraq belongs. See Jam'iyyat. Taqreer^p. 24, 100. The report admits that 
the reason behind this surprising rise is the acute housing crisis. See 
ECWA (UN Economic Commission for West Asia) Survey of Economic and 
Social Develcpments in the EClhA Region (Baghdad, October 1980). 

26. Although it may be impossible to quantify this aspect, Iraq's haemorrhage 
of physicians, and highly qualified professionals began long before the 
sanctions. In 1980, Saddam Hussein ordered the expulsion of some 40 
of the highest qualified specialists from the elite medical faculty at the 
University of Baghdad. This was followed by a wave of panic among 
many other physicians, who began fleeing or resigning from public 
services. An indicator of this was the ads published in Baghdad dailies 
on vacancies in the faculties of medicine. The requirements for a faculty 
member were the unthinkable B.Sc. Degree! In the US in California and 
Michigan there are entire communities of Iraqi physicians. In the UK Iraqi 
physicians managed to place an Iraqi in the 60-member Council of 
Physicians. A member requires at least 300 votes to be elected to this 
body (personal information). 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Revisiting Some Myths on Iraqi Exceptionalism 25 7 

27. Assuming the accuracy of data pertaining to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and 
the UAE, one must bear in mind that many of the available services that 
are mentioned in the tables above (women participation in the workforce, 
doctors, etc.) relate to the non-indigenous population, which is very 
volatile depending on the political and economic atmosphere within 
the country. 

28. Human Rights Watch/Middle East. Iraq's Crime of Genocide: The Anfal 
Campaign against the Kurds (New Haven and London: Yale University 
Press, 1995). 

29. Al-Hayat (18 November 1999). 

30. Al-Sharq al-Awsat (1 2 February 1 999). 

31. "Report of the Special UN Rapporteur for Human Rights on Iraq/' Iraqi 
File, No. 74, p. 68. 

32. Among the excellent sources on the sanctions and their effects, see Peter 
Boone, Haris Gazdar and Athar Hussain (1997). Sanctions against Iraq: 
Costs of Failure (Report prepared for the Center of Economic and Social 
Rights on the impact of United Nations -imposed economic sanctions on 
the economic well-being of the civilian population of Iraq) (London); Sarah 
Graham-Brown. Sanctioning Saddam: The Politics of Intervention in Iraq 
(London, New York: LB. Tauris, 1999). 

33. Andrew Cockbum and Patrick Cockbum. Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection 
of Saddam Hussein (New York: HarperCollins, 1 999). 

34. CBS News. 60 Minutes (1 2 May 1 996). 

35. Until 1996, it was widely known among Iraqis that, away from the Central 
Bank, Hussein Kamil and Uday Saddam Hussein had their own printing 

r^\ machines that produced their own Iraqi dinars. A peculiar consequence ("^ 

of this is that there are today two exchange rates for the Iraqi dinar: one 
for what Iraqis call the "Swiss dinar" (the old pre-1990 dinar), and the 
other for the new much cheaper dinar. The first dinar is only used in Iraqi 
Kurdistan and is worth around 900 times the other! 

36. Jam'iyyat (1995) Taqreer t p. 176. 

37. The significance of these figures lies in the fact that they are admissions 
by state- controlled agencies, and not in the actual income gap existing 
in Iraqi society. Given the high level of secrecy, corruption and parallel 
activities, one can safely assume that the actual ratios are several multiples 
of the stated ones. SeeMuhammed Kadhum al-Muhajir. AlFuqr fil f 'Iraq 
qabla waba'da Harbil Khaleej [Poverty in Iraq before and after the Gulf 
War] (New York: UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia 
(ESCWA, 1977). 

38. By stability, I mean that its main structures and personalities have not 
witnessed a great deal of reshuffling to accommodate the above-mentioned 

39. SamuelP. Huntington. 'TheLonely Superpower/' Foreign Affairs, Vol. 78, 
No. 2(1999), pp. 35-49. 

40. The irony is that it was the US who tried then to restrain France from 
pushing too hard on Germany. Today the two powers, it seems, have 
exchanged roles J 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

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Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Select Bibliography 261 

Thompson, Robert. Make for the Hills: Memories of Far Eastern Wars (London: 

L Cooper, 1989). 
Tilly, Charles. Coercion, Capital, and Eurcpean States, AD 9 90-1 9 90 (Cambridge: 

Basil Blackwell, 1990). 
Trevan, Jim. Saddam's Secrets: The Hunt for Iraq's Hidden Weapons (London: 

HarperCollins, 1999). 
United Nations. Ihe United Nations and the Iraq-Kuwait Conflict, 1990-1996 

(New York: United Nations, 1996). 
US Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism, 2001 (Washington, DC: 

Government Printing Office, 2002). 
Whittleton, Celine. "Oil and the Iraqi Economy/' in Committee Against 

Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq. Saddam's Iraq: Revolution or 

Reaction? (London: Zed Books, 1986). 
Wooster, Robert. The Military and United States Indian Policy 1865-1 903 (Lincoln, 

NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1995). 
Zeldin, Theodore. An Intimate History of Humanity (London: Minerva, 1994). 

^ -0- 


Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

Notes on Contributors 

Abbas Alnasrawi is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of 
Vermont. His books include ih? q's Burden: Oil, Sanctions and Underdevelcpment; 
The Economy of Iraq: Oil Wars, Destruction of Development and Prospects 
1950-2020; Arab Nationalism, Oil, and the Political Economy of Dependency; 
OPEC in a Changing World Economy; Arab Oil and US Energy Requirements; and 
Financing Economic Develcpment in Iraq. He has published in Middle East Journal 
and Arab Studies Quarterly, among others. 

Richard Falk is Emeritus Professor of International Law and Practice at 
Princeton University and Visiting Professor at the University of California, 
Santa Barbara. He is a prolific writer, speaker and activist on world affairs and 
the author or co-author of more than 20 books, among them Crimes of War, 
Revolutionaries and Functionaries, J he War System, A Study of Future Worlds, J he 
End of World Order, Revitalizing International Law, On Human Governance, and 
The Great Terror War. 

William W. Haddad is Professor and Chair of the Department of History, 
California State University, Fullerton. For over a decade, he was associated with 
Arab Studies Quarterly, serving as editor from 1995-98. He has published 
~\_y~ extensively in Arabic and Japanese, notably: Nationalism in a Non-National State: Qj 

The Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire with William Ochsenwald and The June 
1967 War After Three Decades with Ghada Talhami and Janice Terry. 

Eric Herring is a Senior Lecturer in International Politics at the University of 
Bristol. His books include Danger and Opportunity: Explaining International 
Crisis Outcomes and (co-author Barry Buz^n) The Arms Dynamic in World Politics. 
His current research is on the UN economic sanctions on Iraq and also on 
Noam Chomsky and the study of world politics. Financial support from the 
Nuffield Foundation, including an April 2002 research trip for this study, is 
gratefully acknowledged. 

Isam al Khafaji is an Iraqi writer and scholar who teaches state and nation 
formation, globalization and development at the International School of 
Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam and a consultant 
to the World Bank. Al Khafaji is the author of three books and numerous 
papers and articles in Arabic, English, and French on theoretical issues as well 
as on the politics, economics and society in the Middle East, particularly Iraq. 

Tareq Y, Ismael is Professor of Political Science at the University of Calgary 
and President of the International Center for Contemporary Middle East Studies 

at Eastern Mediterranean University. Ismael is a prolific scholar with a dozen 
monographs and innumerable articles. His recent books include, The Communist 



Ismael 02 Chap4 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Notes on Contributors 263 

Movement in Syria and Lebanon; Ihe International Relations of the Middle East in 
the 2 1st Century; and Middle East Politics Today: Government and Civil Society. 

Thomas J, Nagy is an Associate Professor at George Washington University. 
He is adapting computer technology to help bystanders change into rescuers 
when water is used as a weapon of war. Nagy has co-authored or co-edited 
three books in law, public health, and information technology. Project 
Censored rated his expose in Ihe Progressive as number five of approximately 
10,000 entries m 2001. 

Milan Rai was awarded the Frank Cousins Peace Award (Research) by the 

Transport and General Workers Union in 1 993. A founding member of the 
anti-war group ARROW, he has edited two ARROW publications -Ihe Rabble 
Element and ARROW Two Years On. He is also a co-founder of Voices in the 
Wilderness UK and author of War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Against War in Iraq. 

Stephen Zunes is Associate Professor of Politics and Chair of the Peace and 
Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco and a research 
associate at the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies at the 
University of California-Santa Cruz. He serves as Middle East editor for the 
Foreign Policy in Focus Project and as associate editor of Peace Review. He is 
the author of linderbox: US Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism. 




Ismael 3 index 6/10/03 16:54 Page 




11 September 2001 6, 7, 9, 10, 16, 

20, 21,27-30,49,59, 68, 73, 
168, 250 

AbuNidall68, 175 
Acheson, Dean 119 
Afghanistan 20, 21, 29, 30, 187, 

199,203, 220 
Ahtisaan, Martti 24, 88, 89, 92 
Albright, Madeleine 25, 35, 41, 66, 

69, 94, 136, 148, 152, 161, 

180, 198, 199, 242, 243,252 
Algeria 158, 219 
American Friends Service 

Committee 90, 159 
Anglo-Dutch proposal 102 
Annan, Kofi 19, 42, 44, 84, 95, 105, 

153, 172, 177, 200 
Ansar al-Islam 7 
Arab Monetary Fund 83 
Arendt, Hannah 45, 46 
Artificial state, concept of 217- 219 
Assad, Hafizal- 190 
Association of Genocide Scholars 

134, 150, 151, 156 
Assyria and Assyrians 192, 219, 221 
Atta, Mohammed 7, 28 
Attar, Leila al- 195 
Australia 205, 240 
Austria 220 
AWACS (Airborne Warning and 

Control System) 182 
Axis of Evil 22, 28, 29, 73 
Aziz, Tanq 187 

Ba'ath Party 73, 167, 168, 178, 184, 
213,222,224, 225 

Baghdad 16-21, 23, 27, 64, 77, 81, 
84, 89,90, 92, 98,99, 102, 
104, 106, 144-6, 155, 168, 169, 
178, 193, 195, 196, 217,221-4, 
227,239,245, 247, 248,251 

Baghdad Pact 251 

Baker, James 187 

Basra and the Basra District 84, 21 7, 
221,222, 234 

Belgium 218 

Bellamy, Carol 75 

Berger, Sandy 103, 178 

Bin Laden, Osama 59, 168, 187. 

Bisharat, George 151 

Blair, Tony 46, 67 

Bossuyt, Marc 39, 51, 80 

Boyle, Francis 151 

Brazil 74, 135 

Britain and the United Kingdon 5, 
7, 11, 37, 42,47, 48, 58, 61, 
64, 66-71, 82, 93,94, 96-9, 
102, 103, 105-7, 118, 167, 178, 
184, 195, 205, 245 

British Petroleum (BP) 118, 119 

Bush, George, Sr.16, 64 

Bush, George W., Jr 19, 20, 21, 28, 
30, 46,51,67, 73, 167, 170, 
173, 174, 176, 178, 180, 185, 
187, 189, 190, 193-6, 203, 205, 
207, 208 

Butler, Richard 98, 178, 179, 203 

Cable News Network (CNN) 41 

CAFOD, the Catholic aid agency 71 

Cambodia 167, 240, 241 

Campbell, Menzies 72, 105 

Carter, Jimmy and his administra- 
tion 176, 182 

Center for Economic and Social 
Rights (CESR) 60, 61, 63, 78, 

Center for Strategic and 

International Studies 59, 88 

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 7, 
80, 139, 156, 168, 175, 188 

Chalabi, Ahmed 69 

Cheney, Dick 186 

China 92, 94, 98, 191, 204, 214, 




Ismael 3 index 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

Index 265 


Christopher, Warren 66 
Clark, Ramsey 151, 158 
Clinton, Bill 20, 104, 140, 170, 176, 

177, 178, 180, 182, 183, 195, 

196, 205 
Cold War 3, 17, 29, 151, 173, 183, 

206, 207, 239,241, 249, 251 
Colonialism 1, 10, 58, 59, 184, 214, 

217, 218, 219 
Compensation Fund 103, 127, 128, 

Congress of the US 6, 21 , 94, 1 20, 

139, 140, 148, 153, 168, 171, 

180, 182, 190, 196, 203, 204, 

Convention on the Rights of the 

Child 60, 78 
Crimes Against Humanity 30 
Czechoslovakia 74 

Department of Defense (DoD) 48, 
134, 136, 137, 139, 140, 147, 
151, 155, 160 

Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) 
24, 134-7, 140-5, 147, 148, 
150, 151, 153, 155, 156, 157, 
162, 163, 164, 175, 186 

Dinar 73, 82, 83, 86, 246 

East Timor, 150 

Economist, The 71, 87, 96, 98, 201 

Eddington, Patrick 139 

Egypt 74, 168, 189, 190, 206, 218, 

Eichmann, Adolf 45, 46 
Elbaradei, Mohammed 172 

Farouk of Egypt, King219 
Federal Bureau of Investigation 

(FBI) 7, 168 
Financial limes 87, 98, 201 
Finland 24, 220 
Fisher, Roger, 187 
Fitz water, Marlin 68 
Food and Agriculture Organization 

(FAO)77, 83, 154, 159, 198, 


France, 37, 42, 45, 92, 94, 98, 99, 
100, 118, 167, 184, 195, 204, 
218, 219 

Garfield, Richard 77, 156 
Gates, Robert 180 
General Accounting Office, 120 
Geneva Convention 39, 61, 79, 

145, 147, 148, 151, 154, 157, 

187, 191 

Article 54 of the Geneva 

Convention 147, 148 
Genocide Convention 149, 151, 

153, 154 
Germany 17, 24, 29, 60, 189, 213, 

Ghali, Boutros Boutros- 93, 202 
Glaspie, April 185 
Glosson, Buster 85 
Gonzalez, Henry B. 139, 153 
Goods Review List (GRL) 26, 49, 

Graham-Brown, Sarah 65, 91, 92, 

94,95, 97, 100 
Greece 74 

Green Lists 100, 103, 105 
Guardian 41, 105 
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) 

184, 251 
Gulf War of 1991 2, 3, 6, 16-19,21, 

23,28, 30, 31,64, 74, 76, 86, 

131, 140, 169, 171, 174, 175, 

178, 180, 182, 186, 191, 193, 

195, 197, 198,203, 205, 216, 

223, 225,227,242, 249 

Hague Convention 25, 61 
Ham, Peter 103, 104, 105 
Halabjal75, 240 

Hall, Tony 148, 149, 152 
Halliday, Denis 44, 95, 151, 154, 

158, 227,228 
Hamidullah, Muhammad 9 
Hannay, David 68 
Hassan of Jordan, Prince 186 
Heffmck, Philippe 77, 84 
Hersh, Seymour 171 
Hitler, Adolph 51, 189 
Hoskms, Eric 63, 83, 85, 86, 100 



Ismael 3 index 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

266 Iraq 


House of Commons 61, 72, 106 

Human Rights Watch 70, 96, 240 

Hungary 220 

Hurd, Douglas 93 

Hussem, Saddam 3, 11, 12, 16, 18, 

20, 21,27-30,36,37, 39, 41, 
42, 60,68, 69, 72,85,90, 94, 
98, 104, 107, 161, 167, 168, 
169, 174-80, 184-94, 197, 199, 

202,203,205, 208, 213,215, 
220,222,223, 226, 228,239, 
241,242,248, 250 

Ibrahim, Ezzat 105 

Illiteracy, .see Literacy 
India 172, 218,219,220, 224 
Indonesia 194 
International Atomic Energy 

Agency (IAEA) 27, 102, 103, 

172, 174, 179, 204 
International Study Team, (1ST) 76, 

Intifada 2, 5, 224, 240 
Iraqi Petroleum Company 2 
Iran 17, 21,39, 51, 69, 74, 83, 

118-23, 129-31, 139, 148, 168, 

175, 176, 181-4, 188, 193, 

206-8, 214, 215, 218, 221, 226, 

228,229,230, 234, 237,238, 

240,244,247, 251 
Iran-Iraq War 52, 122 
Iraq Action Coalition 38 
Iraq-Iran war see Iran-Iraq War 
Iraqi Water Treatment 

Vulnerabilities (IWTV) 11, 134, 

137, 139, 140-4, 147, 149-57, 

160, 161 
Israel 16, 21,24,45, 150, 167, 

170-4, 183, 203, 206, 214, 251, 

Israeli Defense Forces 158 

Jagland, Thorbjoem 105 

Japan 1 7, 29, 1 20, 1 73, 1 90, 206 

Joint Services Conference on 

Professional Ethics (JSCOPE) 
134, 152, 160 

Jordan 73, 76, 129, 186, 206, 214, 
216, 229, 231-6, 238, 239, 244, 

Just War, Theory of 25, 29 

Karkouk 220 

Khmer Rouge 167, 241 

Kosovo 29, 156 

Kurdistan 91, 219, 220 

Kurds and Kurdish 19, 36, 94, 150, 
168, 175, 181, 185, 192, 193, 
195, 199, 200, 216, 220-6, 240, 

Kuwait 18, 22, 23, 24, 31, 34, 37, 
39, 51,57,59, 62-5,67, 70, 73, 
92, 118, 121, 124, 125, 141, 
148, 168, 173, 175, 176, 
185-94, 195, 197, 199, 200, 
203-6,215,227, 229, 231-6, 
238,242, 244, 251 

Lake, Anthony 183 
Lang, Walter 176 
League of Arab States 185, 203 
League of Nations 220 
Lebanon 64, 73, 206, 216, 220, 252 
LeMay, Curtis 51 
Liberal Democrat 72 
Lieberman, Joseph 21 
London School of Economics (LSE) 
75, 81 

Major, John 64, 68. 

Marshall Plan 119, 162 
McCain, John 21 
McClellan, Scott 174 
McKmney, Cynthia 140, 148 
Mexico 74 

Morocco 190, 218,219,220 
Mossadegh, Mohammed 119 
Mosul and the Mosul District 21 7, 

220,221, 222 
Muslim Brothers 223 
Myat, Tun 44, 49, 96 

Najaf 224 

Nasser, Gamal Abdul and Nasserites 
168, 189 



Ismael 3 index 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Index 267 


National Holocaust Museum 137, 

North Atlantic Treaty Organization 

(NATO) 151, 182, 193 
Newbold, Gregory 196 
Nicaragua 29, 189 
Nichol, John 71 
Nixon Doctrine 181 
No-fly Zones 18, 20, 30, 68, 104, 

195, 196, 197 
North Korea 22, 172, 183, 202 
Northern Alliance 21 
Norway 105, 220 

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty 1 71 
Nuremberg 29 

Office of the Iraq Program (OIP) 26, 

45,47, 48, 50, 152 
Oil 38, 52, 80, 88,99, 102, 104, 

118, 125, 127, 128, 129, 200, 

216, 227, 231 
Oil-for-Food (OFF) 18, 26, 38, 40, 

47-52, 77, 83, 84, 86, 88, 89, 

91-7, 99, 100, 105, 107, 151, 

153, 199, 200 
Oman 182 
Organization for the Prohibition of 

Chemical Weapons 7 
Operation Desert Fox 97, 99, 106, 

Operation Desert Shield 186 
Operation Desert Storm 85, 145, 

146, 191, 242 
Organization of Petroleum 

Exporting Countries (OPEC) 2, 

118, 119, 120, 122, 124, 125, 

130, 131 
Ottoman Empire 1, 184, 217, 218, 


Pakistan 172, 219 

Palestine and the Palestinians 5, 21, 

59,64, 160, 168, 187, 194, 

203, 206 
Pell, Claiborne 185 
Perez de Cueller, Javier 23 
Perry, William 171 
Persian Gulf 178, 181, 206, 207 

Pickering, Thomas 104, 105 
Poland 205 

Powell, Colin 8, 21, 67, 154, 168, 200 

Qaida, al- 8, 16,20, 21, 28,29, 59, 

Qassim, Abdul Karim 222 

Reagan, Ronald 1 71 , 1 75, 1 76, 1 85 

Red Cross 153, 159 

Red Sea 214 

Regime Change 16, 19, 20, 23, 27, 

28, 29, 67 
Rentier state and rentierism 3, 221, 

222, 224,229,230, 247 
Revolutionary Command Council 

Roosevelt, Franklin 119, 167 
Rumaila Oil Fields 64, 125 
Russia and the Soviet Union 2, 3 7, 

42,45, 92, 94,98, 100, 123, 

173, 179, 183, 184, 190, 191, 

204, 206 

Sabah, Sabah al-Ahmad al- 70, 203 

Sadruddin Aga Khan, Prince 89, 90, 

91,92, 95 
Safire, William 7 
Sanctions 16-20, 22-8, 30, 31, 

34-51, 57, 59-72, 74-89, 92-5, 
97,99, 101, 103-6, 118, 121, 
125, 126, 128-39, 141, 143-55, 
158-62, 167, 169, 177, 180, 
184, 185, 187-92, 197-201, 
202, 207,216,220, 227, 229, 
230, 241-52 
and their impact on: 

Children and child mortality 
8,25,35, 58, 69, 71, 74-8, 
82, 85, 92,93, 107, 134, 135, 
137, 139, 144-9, 152-6, 159, 
162, 197, 198, 199,201, 240, 
241, 243, 249 
Cholera 84, 136, 138, 143-6, 

155, 198 
Diarrhea 85, 141, 144, 145, 146 
Disease 71, 84, 126, 137, 
141-7, 149, 150, 162, 163, 



Ismael 3 index 6/10/03 16:54 Page 

268 Iraq 


Sanctions, and their impact on: cont. 
Dysentery 139 
Electricity 84, 85, 86, 95, 144, 

Food shortages 63, 198, 199 
Health 10, 24, 64, 73-5, 78, 80, 

84-9,95, 96, 100, 121, 127, 

135, 136, 144, 145, 147, 148, 
156, 162, 194, 197, 199, 201, 
207, 228,232,235, 242 

Infant mortality 74, 75, 162, 

232, 233,237,238, 244, 245, 

Infanticide 154, 157 
Literacy 74, 78, 235, 238, 239, 

Malnutrition 63, 76, 77, 83, 

85, 197, 198, 245 
Middle class 59, 73, 197,201 
Poverty 58, 59, 81, 126, 131, 

245, 247,250 
Sewage and Poor Sanitation 84, 

85,86, 97, 100, 138, 145, 

198, 235 
Starvation 63, 79, 83, 125, 135, 

Water 11, 83, 89, 100, 134, 

136, 137, 140, 141, 142, 143, 
148, 154, 156, 157 

Sanctions Committee of the United 
Nations (also known as the 
661 Committee) 27, 40, 42, 47, 
48, 50,88, 89, 97, 100, 101, 
105, 126, 127, 130, 141, 147, 

152, 153, 200 

Saudi Arabia 36, 59, 69, 73, 118, 
119, 120, 168, 182, 186, 187, 
194,206,215, 216, 219,229, 
230,231,232, 235, 240 

Save the Children 70, 72, 96 

Schultz, George 189 

Scowcraft, Brent 64 

Scud Missiles 16 

Secretary General of the United 
Nations 19, 23, 30,42, 151, 

153, 154, 177, 200, 202,204, 

Security Council of the United 

Nations 17, 18,22,23,26,30, 

34, 37, 39, 40, 47, 49, 60, 62, 63, 






Senate of the US Congress 1 1 9, 1 20, 
175, 176, 185 

Sevan, Benon 45, 48, 49, 100, 101 

Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlevi 181, 182, 

Shattal-Arabl25, 193, 215 

Shell Oil Company 118 

Shi'itel9, 36, 193, 195, 221-6 

Singh, Anupama Rao 77 

Smart Sanctions 5, 23, 26, 27, 42, 
49, 86,87, 106, 193, 200, 201 

Somalia 218, 248 

South Korea 172 

Soviet Union see Russia 

State Department of the US 1 1 , 64, 
119, 136, 150, 168, 175, 195 

Sunm 214, 221, 222, 223, 226 

Switzerland 218, 219 

Syria 1, 27, 73, 183, 206, 214, 215, 
216,218, 219, 223,229-36, 
244, 252 

Taliban 21, 22 

Terror and terrorism 21, 22, 28, 59, 
73, 74, 135, 168, 173, 175, 
180, 184, 208 

Texas Oil Company (Texaco) 118 

Thatcher, Margaret 62 

The limes of London 99 

Tikrit 223 

Tunisia 190 

Turkey 69, 73, 76, 91, 127, 150, 
175, 193, 196, 215,216, 219 

Uday Bin Hussein 245 

United Arab Emirates (UAE) 118, 

124,206, 229-33,235, 236, 

238, 244 
United Nations Charter 4, 1 7, 23, 

29, 60,61,63, 168,203,204, 

United Nations Development 

Program 84 



Ismael 3 index 6/10/03 16:54 Page 


Index 269 


19,22, 24, 65, 

89, 91,93, 
169, 172, 

United Nations Educational, 
Scientific, and Cultural 
Organization (UNESCO) 74 
United Nations International 
Child rens' Emergency Fund 
(UNICEF) 63, 74, 75, 76, 77, 80, 
84,85, 145, 152, 156, 159, 197 
United Nations Monitoring, 

Verification and Inspection 
Commission (UNMOVIC) 27, 
47,48, 102, 103, 179, 204 
United Nations Resolutions: 

Resolution 487 171 

Resolution 660 23, 185, 191, 197 

Resolution 661 27, 62-5, 67, 125, 
147, 153, 200 

Resolution 678 24 

Resolution 687 18, 
66, 68, 82, 83, 
98,99, 106, 126, 

177, 197, 203 

Paragraph 21 of Resolution 687 

Paragraph 22 of Resolution 687 
65, 66, 98, 106, 107 
Resolution 706 89-93, 107, 127, 

Resolution 712 89-91, 93, 107, 

127, 128 
Resolution 986 91, 94, 128, 129 
Resolution 1051 47, 97 
Resolution 1153 89, 95, 128, 
Resolution 1284 95, 99, 100, 

103, 107, 128, 129, 245 
Resolution 1382 26 
Resolution 1409 49, 86, 103, 

106, 107 
Resolution 1441 22, 30 

Article 11 of Resolution 1441 

Article 14 of Resolution 1441 
22, 30, 179, 204 

United Nations Special Commission 
(UNSCOM) 19, 22, 65, 66, 91, 
98, 106, 170, 172, 175, 177, 

178, 180, 242 



Universal Declaration of Human 

Rights 60, 78 

Vedrme, Hubert 70, 71, 102 

Venezuela 74 

Vietnam 16, 20, 51, 58, 167, 181, 

189, 192, 199 
Voices in the Wilderness 42, 153, 

159, 160, 161 
Vollmer, Ludger 8 
Von Sponeck, Hans 151, 154, 158 

Washington Post 99, 182, 192 

Weapons of Mass Destruction 

(WMD)8, 10, 16, 19,23, 24, 
27,28, 30, 64,65, 80, 98, 104, 
126, 135, 154, 169, 172, 176, 
178, 180, 183, 198, 207, 242, 
243, 245,252 

Biological Weapons 7, 8, 24, 
36, 65, 98, 135, 139, 169, 

174, 175, 176, 177, 179, 180, 

Chemical Weapons 7, 174, 

175, 179, 180, 181, 188, 240 
Nuclear Weapons 8, 24, 36, 65, 

98, 135, 169-75, 180, 183, 
198, 208, 228 

Wilson, Brian 107 

Wilson, Woodrow 167 

Wolfowitz, Paul 7, 8 

Woolsey, James 7 

World Bank 74, 237 

World Health Organization (WHO) 

74, 76, 145, 159, 200 
World Trade Center 20, 168 
World War I 17, 24, 60, 185, 217 
World War II 17, 24, 29,45, 58, 

119, 153 

Yemen 23, 188, 191 

Zimbabwe 97, 100, 241 
Zimmerman, Peter 186 

Zionist 206 



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